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CNN Today

Delta Pilots Edge Closer to Strike as Contract Talks Stall

Aired March 2, 2001 - 1:01 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: The possibility of a major airline strike appears to be getting closer. Delta and its pilots say their contract talks are stalled and they're asking federal mediators to release them from negotiations. The pilots set up informational picket lines in several cities today, including Salt Lake City, here in Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles and New York.

CNN's Brian Palmer is in New York with the latest on this developing story.

BRIAN PALMER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon, Lou.

Delta Airline pilots are taking their case for higher pay directly to passengers today with informational picketing at nine airports across the country. You mentioned some of them: Atlanta; Boston; Cincinnati; Dallas; Los Angeles; Orlando; Portland, Oregon; Salt Lake City, and right here at New York's LaGuardia Airport.

Now, the action comes after a stalemate in contract negotiation talks between the Pilots Association and Delta. Delta says their offer of 7-17 percent pay raises over four years plus a 21 percent increase for Delta Express pilots is fair. Pilots Association does not agree.

The passengers, however, are concerned more about delays and disruptions in service -- Lou.

WATERS: Brian, what do potential travelers watch for here? How do they plan their spring breaks and their summer vacations and such?

PALMER: Well, what some of them are saying is they try to avoid airlines that are having disruptions and delays or labor issues. It seems that that's getting a little more difficult to do these days. Others are saying they just get to the airport earlier -- Lou.

WATERS: So if the mediator says contract talks are off, there'll be 30 days of cooling off. So there's a while here to work this out.

PALMER: Exactly, Lou. Both sides have asked federal mediators to withdraw from mediation. If they agree to that, that's when we go into the 30-day cooling off period, Lou.

WATERS: All right, that's Brian Palmer in New York. We'll continue, of course, to watch that story, of concern to many Americans.

There's tension at American Airlines also you have to watch out for. That carrier is accusing its mechanics of staging a work slowdown and it's seeking a temporary restraining order against the union. The union denies orchestrating any slowdown. But American says it has been forced to cancel dozens of flights out of Kennedy Airport in New York. The airline and its mechanics have been involved in contract negotiations since October.

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