The union representing pilots for US Airways Group Inc. began picketing Wednesday at Philadelphia International Airport to bring attention to slow contract negotiations.
Captain James Ray, spokesman for the US Airline Pilots Association, says the union plans to picket in other cities where US Airways has a major presence, including Charlotte.
The union says US Airways is deliberately stalling a contract agreement. The picketers also are protesting what the union calls the lowest wages among the major airlines.
Ray hopes current contract talks with the airline and federal mediators will move forward. If not, US Airways could go on strike, he says. The airline, meanwhile, says its strongly agrees with its pilots’ union about the urgency of coming to an agreement. “That’s why we filed a declaratory action earlier this summer to help bring a years-long seniority dispute to an end and move negotiations forward. Our legal action will expedite a single contract – it won’t delay it,” the carrier says in a written statement.
US Airways has its largest hub is at Charlotte/Douglas International Airport. The carrier has about 6,000 local employees.
Meanwhile, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters has promised to support the pilots’ union in contract talks US Airlines. That support is seen as largely symbolic.
The pilots have been unsuccessful in winning a unified contract since the carrier’s 2005 merger with America West Airlines. Pilots are working under contracts that were in place before the merger of the airlines. The pilots have been at odds with each other — as well as airline management — over seniority and pay issues as they try to forge a single labor agreement.
US Airways, based in Tempe, Ariz., operates more than 3,200 daily flights in the Americas and Europe.
The Charlotte-based US Airline Pilots Association represents the 5,200 mainline pilots who fly for US Airways.