Frontier Airlines pilot leaders—frustrated with the slow pace of contract talks—plan to ask members, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), for authority to strike if negotiations break down and the federal government authorizes a walkout.

ALPA’s Frontier Airlines Master Executive Council (MEC) voted unanimously Aug. 9 to conduct a strike-authorization ballot that will open Aug. 22 and close Sept. 8. According to ALPA, once passed, the ballot would authorize the pilot leadership to declare a strike when the pilot group is given permission to do so by the National Mediation Board (NMB).

Frontier Airlines is a Denver-based ultra-low-cost carrier.

“We are still working under a bankruptcy contract negotiated 10 years ago,” Frontier MEC chairman Tracy Smith said. “For the past two years, Frontier has enriched its owners and management with personal dividends paid from historically high revenues and profits, while our members are the lowest-paid Airbus pilots in North America.”

Smith added the pilots “lag behind our peers in virtually every aspect of pay, benefits and job security. Our pilots repeatedly agreed to concessions to keep our company in business over the past decade, and it’s time for management to reciprocate by agreeing to a fair contract without further delay.”

ALPA opened contract negotiations with Frontier in March of last year. The parties have been working with a federal mediator since October 2016, with another mediation session set for the week of Aug. 21.

A Frontier spokesperson told ATW in an emailed statement: “We are negotiating through the formal mediation process and this action has no bearing on that process. As long as these negotiations continue, there is absolutely zero threat of a strike. Frontier remains committed to reaching an agreement that is fair for both our pilots and the company.”

Before a strike could take place, ALPA said the NMB would have to release the two sides from mediation, and then offer binding arbitration. If either party rejects arbitration, a 30-day cooling-off period would commence, after which both parties could exercise self-help—a strike by the union or a lockout by the company, according to ALPA.

Linda Blachly linda.blachly@penton.com