More US pilots are striking over pay and contract negotiations, this time at Southwest Airlines.

The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association said 99 percent of the 98 percent participating pilots have voted to authorize a potential strike. 

The poll results were released earlier than expected as the votes came in quickly and decisively. 

Read More: American Airlines pilots vote to strike as pay row continues

However, this does not guarantee an immediate walkout as it is challenging for airline unions to go on strike under federal law.

The Southwest pilots’ union said the outcome of the vote would give them the power to request a release from mediated talks to enable a strike. 

Southwest Airlines responded to the vote, stating it would not impact its scheduled operations.

The airline and its pilots have been trying to negotiate a new labor deal for over three years. 

Read More: Southwest Airlines reduces hiring due to delays in Boeing aircraft

The pilots have been pushing for a significant overhaul of the company’s scheduling practices, which they claim have caused operational disruptions. 

The union has been highly critical of Southwest, stating that last year’s operational meltdown was evidence of deeper problems within the company.

Pilots at three major airlines, including Southwest, are negotiating new labor contracts. 

The industrywide shortage of pilots that emerged during the pandemic has given pilots’ unions more leverage to push for improved pay and changes in scheduling practices.

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While strike authorizations are common in airline negotiations, walk-offs are rare in the US. 

American Airlines Group pilots voted overwhelmingly in favor of a similar strike authorization earlier this month.

But the airline stated progress was being made toward a deal.

Delta Air Lines pilots voted to authorize a strike last year but reached a new labor deal that set a new high-water mark for pilot pay. 

It included raises of at least 34 percent over the four-year term.

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