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caption: Alaska Airlines planes parked at gates with Mount Rainier in the background at sunrise, on March 1, 2021, at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle.
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Alaska Airlines planes parked at gates with Mount Rainier in the background at sunrise, on March 1, 2021, at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle.
Credit: (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

Alaska Airlines pilots vote to authorize strike

Alaska Airlines pilots have voted “yes” to authorize a strike.

The vote Wednesday does not mean that a strike by pilots is imminent, and they have not scheduled one. Rather, it means that a strike is on the table if they feel the situation merits it as they continue with negotiations between the union and the company. Alaska Airlines officials continue to state that guests are not impacted by this vote and that pilots are not on strike.

A total of 99% of the pilots voted in favor of allowing a strike, according to a spokesperson for the Air Line Pilots Association. Captain David Campbell says 95.89% of their members cast ballots.

The vote comes after pilots, dressed in uniform, held a series of informational pickets in April to raise awareness of their requests for better work schedules and job security. Contract negotiations between the Air Line Pilots Union and Alaska Airlines have been at a standstill since 2019.

This authorization gives union officials the authority to call for pilots to walk off the job if there is a breakdown in negotiations and if the federal government "permits the parties to exercise self-help after the required procedures of the Railway Labor Act have been exhausted," according to the union.

Union officials have declined interview requests today, saying they are negotiating with the company today "and want to allow that process to work without distractions." In a statement they say "they expect to work under the same conditions and with the same career security that pilots at competitor airlines have enjoyed for a decade."

Alaska Airlines have declined an interview request but have released a public statement.

The airline says that the vote will not impact guests or operations.

"We remain committed to reaching a deal to provide an updated contract that is good for Alaska’s pilots," their statement reads.

The goal is not a strike, according to the union's chairman for Alaska Airlines, Captain Will McQuillen. He maintains that the goal is to reach a new market-based employment contract.