The clock is ticking for American Airlines pilots. Members have until noon on Friday to weigh in on the company’s latest contract offer.
Members at the Allied Pilots Association are anxiously awaiting results of the contract vote, which are expected to be announced between 12:30 and 1 p.m. Friday afternoon.
Union leaders are urging pilots to vote “yes” or insist they’re heading down the path of self destruction.
“I think they’d be foolish not to pass it,” said former pilot and aviation expert Denny Kelly.
Kelly believes American Airlines pilots will back union leaders and support the latest deal from the airlines.
“I think they want this contract signed,” Kelly says.
Pilots said the contract offers better work rules, retirement and job protection that the last deal they shot down in August. That’s when bad blood between American’s management and pilots got worse. A bankruptcy judge allowed the airline to toss out pilots’ contracts, followed by pilots increasing maintenance write-ups, flight delays and cancellations.
"The union management, the American management, the majority of the pilot group, majority of the employees at American Airlines, I think they want this thing over,” said Kelly.
In a letter to pilots, Union Vice President Tony Chapman said while the offer falls short of pay increases right away, it will equal peers in three years. He claims some terms will be better than current contracts at Delta, US Airways, and United.
“The pilots, compare to their old contract and some things they use to have, yeah it's not that good to them.” Kelly said. “But you look as an outsider looking in, you see how much money they're making and the working conditions and this kind of thing; in today's economy, it's a pretty good contract."
Union leaders said they don’t know which way the results will go. On its web site it disputes that election officials are watching real-time results.
The union president believes a handful of opponents are trying to punish airline management but urges members to put pilots’ needs first.
Check back with NBC 5 for the latest on the voting results.