After more than three years of contact negotiations with Trans States Airlines management, pilots at the US regional voted in favour of authorising local union leadership to call a strike if a "mutually agreeable contract" cannot be reached through negotiations.
Nearly 96% of eligible pilots who participated in the strike authorization ballot approved withdrawal of services.
Trans States pilots, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), have been negotiating for a new contract since February 2006. The National Mediation Board (NMB) became involved in February 2007.
Should the NMB release pilots and management from talks due to their reaching an impasse, the parties have 30 days to reach a deal or then the local ALPA master executive council (MEC) has power to call a strike.
NMB has not called for a 30-day cooling off period, and while an ALPA spokeswoman is unsure of when that might happen, she says she is hopeful this will occur sooner rather than later under the pro-union administration of US President Barack Obama.
Jason Ruszin, chairman of the Trans States ALPA arm, says of the latest talks: "while we remain optimistic that our goals at the negotiating table can be achieved without a strike, our strike preparations are complete, and we stand ready to support our membership if it becomes necessary."
ALPA represents 457 pilots at Trans States.
Trans States was not immediately available for comment.