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CNN Today

Delta Pilots Threaten to Strike

Aired March 2, 2001 - 4:08 p.m. ET

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

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, fasten your seatbelts, on other trouble now -- big trouble brewing for those of you who fly the not- so-friendly skies in the nation's airlines.

A strike involving some of the major carries may be just around the corner. In several airports around the country today, Delta Airline pilots held informational picketing, as they call it. Delta's contract talks with those pilots remain stalled. The two sides are asking the National Mediation Board to step in to resolve their dispute.

American Airlines is taking court action to try to stop a work slowdown that forced it to cancel 28 flights in and out of Kennedy airport in New York yesterday, and United Airlines is also taking court action to stop a work slowdown by mechanics.

Joining us now in New York with more on the airline battle, as well as the battle for passengers to get where they want to go, CNN's Brian Palmer -- Brian.

BRIAN PALMER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon, Joie. Well, today, Delta Airline pilots held informational pickets at nine airports across the country, including New York's LaGuardia airport, where we are now, to put pressure on Delta management in contract negotiation talks, but also to take their case directly to Delta passengers.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAY KUENZLE, DELTA PILOT: Today we're picketing, so that we can let people know that we are in contract negotiations with our company, and simply that the Delta pilots want a negotiated contract. We do not want to be taken to a strike.

PALMER (voice-over): Delta and The Pilot's Association, which represents nearly 10,000 Delta pilots, have been negotiating a contract for 18 months.

The pilots want greater job security, better retirement benefits and a pay raise they say reflects Delta's profitability. Delta says the 7 to 17 percent raises they have offered and the 21 percent raise they've offered to Delta Express pilots is generous.

CATHERINE STENGEL, DELTA SPOKESWOMAN: We've made a lot of headway, we've narrowed our differences and had a lot of good progress during the last few months.

PALMER: Passengers, however, seem to be more concerned about delays and disruptions to airline service.

KATI BRENNER, PASSENGER: You know, it's an inconvenience to travelers, obviously, but I would hope that people would respect that process.

ADRIENNE FISHBEIN, PASSENGER: So if Delta is on strike, you know, I have to depend on US Air. So, if both went on strike, I'd be kind of screwed, and it would cost me a lot more to go home.

PALMER: Both sides await a decision from federal mediators, who must determine whether to release them from contract talks. Once that happens, they enter a 30-day cooling-off period. After that, a strike becomes possible.

Brian Palmer, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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