ROMULUS (WWJ) – Delta Air Lines pilots are going from the cockpit to the picket line at Detroit Metro Airport.
Captain Mark Thompson, with the Airlines Pilots Association, said protests are taking place Thursday at airports in Detroit and Minneapolis.
“We are picketing both those pilot bases,” Thompson told WWJ’s Scott Ryan. “We’re still operating, we’re just informational picketing right now.”
The pilots, who gathered at the McNamara terminal near international departures, are trying to bring attention to an ongoing contract dispute with the airline.
“We’ve been negotiating with the company about 19 months now,” said Thompson. Our contract was amendable on the first on the year, and the company is not putting any serious offers on the table, so we’re out picketing to inform the public that Delta management needs to get serious and put a good contract offer on the table.”
Thompson said pilots were first in line to take pay cuts during turbulent times and now, they’re the last to be compensated.
“A decade ago, Delta pilots took a 50 percent pay cut in order to save the company in bankruptcy. Five zero — and we lost our pensions at that time frame, too,” he said. “Since that time, management has rewarded themselves very richly, they’ve rewarded the investors richly, but they have not come and rewarded the employees that way, especially the pilots. They have brought most of the other employees up but not the pilots. We are just trying to get back to 2004 wages right now, so we don’t feel that our ask is unreasonable at all.”
At this time, Thompson said a work stoppage is not on the table. But that could change.
“We’ve always been there for the company, the recent problems with their computers and everything, we were there helping them get out of that problem — and they don’t seem to want to reward us for those efforts,” he said. “We need Delta Air Lines to get serious about taking care of their employees.”
When reached for comment, Delta Air Lines said they are hopeful to find a resolution soon.
“Delta has made a comprehensive proposal for an agreement that contains an industry-leading package of pay, benefits and work rules,” the airline said in a statement. “We recognize the many contributions Delta pilots have made to the airline’s success and are hopeful that a conclusion to negotiations can be reached soon.”
The association says about a quarter of its 50,000 members work for Delta Air Lines.