Pilot unions reject proposed contracts, seek better work-life balance: It's 'more than just the money'

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Within just days of each other, American and United Airlines pilot unions rejected proposed contracts from their respective carriers, and Delta pilots authorized a strike if necessary to secure a new contract. 

The Allied Pilots Association (APA), which is the certified collective bargaining agent for all American Airlines pilots, announced Wednesday that its board of directors rejected American's proposal, which would have hiked pilot pay by 19% over two years. 

UNITED AIRLINES PILOTS VOTE TO 'RESOUNDINGLY' REJECT CONTRACT OFFER

A pilot walks through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., on Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021.  (Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)

"Our pilots have told us in the past, and they've reaffirmed today that this is more than just the money. The money will come. This is about scheduling and work-life balance," Tajer told FOX Business. "It's literally about being able to establish your schedule, so you know when you can do what you need to do with your family." 

Delta's pilot union spokesperson, Evan Baach, told FOX Business that Delta pilots, who are represented by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), worked a record amount of overtime this summer. 

"We've been working longer days," he said. "We've been spending less time with our families and working a record amount of overtime to get Delta customers to their destination safely." 

AMERICAN AIRLINES PILOTS UNION REJECTS PAY HIKE OFFER

Like American, Baach said they are working toward an industry leading comprehensive contract and while compensation is a big part of that, they are also looking for improved working conditions, job security and retirement and insurance benefits. 

Pilots talk as they look at the tail of an American Airlines aircraft at Dallas-Ft Worth International Airport February 14, 2013. (REUTERS/Mike Stone / Reuters Photos)

In fact, it was one reason why Alaska Airlines pilots, who are also represented by the ALPA, voted to ratify a new three-year contract last month. 

The new contract, which was overwhelmingly supported by pilots, included "significant improvements including: increased pay, greater flexibility, better benefits and stronger job security," according to the ALPA. 

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A United Airlines Holdings Inc. pilot walks past the check-in counter at San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco, California, on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020.  (David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)

"When we looked at the Alaska agreement, we were stunned to see the work-life balance achievements that they had reached, and it just emboldened our powers to say, ‘we can do this, and we will do it with management,'" Tajer said.

Building up staff and creating a better work-life balance not only creates a more reliable airline and helps the carrier fly more airplanes, but it will also attract future pilots, he added.  

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A spokesman for Chicago-based United said the outcome of the vote was expected after the airline and the union identified issues with the June proposal. He said the two sides are working on a new industry leading agreement that is expected to include better pay rates and other improvements.

Meanwhile, Delta told FOX Business that it's confident, after making significant progress in negotiations, that both parties will reach a "fair and equitable" agreement. 

Representatives for American Airlines did not respond to FOX Business' request for comment. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.  

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