Wednesday, February 28, 2001

Deadline today for Delta, pilots

By James Pilcher
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Delta Air Lines and its pilots union set today as the deadline for their contract talks, but as of Tuesday, neither side could talk about any last-minute efforts to make a deal.

        As it did with Comair and its pilots late last week, the National Mediation Board imposed a media blackout Tuesday on both Atlanta-based Delta and its 9,700-member pilots union.

        Both sides said in December that they would ask the board for a proffer of arbitration - or an offer to let a third party draw up a binding contract — today.

        If, as expected, either side turns down the proffer, both the pilots and Delta would begin a 30-day cooling-off period. The pilots then — as early as April 1 — legally would be allowed to strike.

        Such an action would shut down Delta, the nation's third-largest carrier, which operates its second-largest hub at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.

        Comair and its 1,350 pilots began such a countdown last week, with the pilots to vote on the Hebron-based Delta subsidiary's final offer sometime in March.

        Officials from Delta and its branch of the Air Line Pilots Association declined to comment, citing the blackout. Phone calls to the mediation board were not returned. Delta's last known offer would have made the airline's pilots the highest paid in the industry.


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