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Delta Pilots Grant Strike Authority

Union members vote in favor of giving their leaders the right to call a work stoppage.
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Pilots at

Delta Air Lines


have voted overwhelmingly to give their union's leaders the authority to call a strike against the airline.

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Delta filed for bankruptcy last September, and its management has been trying to void its pilots' contract and get more than $300 million in cost savings from the people who fly its planes. The pilots already agreed to concessions worth $1 billion a year in 2004.

The union has said it will strike if its contract is torn up, and that promise was made again Tuesday. Should the pilots strike, Delta's planes would not only be grounded, but it could mean, in a worst-case scenario, essentially the end of the airline.

Out of 5,799 eligible voters, 5,590 voted, according to a statement on the Web site of the Delta chapter of the Air Line Pilots Association. Among all the votes, 94.7% were cast in support of giving union leaders the power to initiate a work stoppage.

A three-person arbitration panel in Washington, after hearing from the company and the union, will decide by April 15 whether it agrees with Delta's request to have the pilots' contract voided.