Pilots from one of the nation’s biggest airlines marched in picket lines at major airports on Friday as they push for higher pay.
The United Airlines pilots have been working without a raise for more than four years while negotiating with airline management over a new contract.
The pilots are unlikely to strike anytime soon, however. Federal law makes it very difficult for unions to conduct strikes in the airline industry, and the last walkout at a U.S. carrier was more than a decade ago.
The coast-to-coast protests by United pilots come on the heels of overwhelming strike-authorization votes by pilots at American Airlines and Southwest Airlines. United pilots could be the next to vote, according to union officials.
Pilots at all three carriers are looking to match or beat the deal that Delta Air Lines reached with its pilots earlier this year, which raised pay rates by 34% over four years.
Top scale at United for a captain is $369 an hour on two-aisle planes, called “widebodies,” which are generally used on international flights, and $297 an hour on “narrowbodies” such as Boeing 737s. Airline pilots fly an average of 75 hours per month, according to the Labor Department.
United has proposed to match the Delta increase, but that might not be enough for a deal.