Leader of Delta pilots' union will resign; move follows rejection of company contract offer

MarketsAssociated Press

The head of the pilots' union at Delta Air Lines is resigning.

Mike Donatelli said Wednesday that he will step down in September and union leaders will elect a new chairman.

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Donatelli's decision comes less than two weeks after members of the Air Line Pilots Association rejected a Delta contract offer that union leaders had narrowly endorsed.

"It is time for the pilots of Delta Air Lines to unify," Donatelli said in a letter to the airline's 12,000 pilots.

The Delta offer, which lost by nearly a 2-to-1 margin, included pay raises but could have reduced profit-sharing under some circumstances. The union's executive council endorsed the deal 11-8. Delta promised to buy 60 new planes if the contract was ratified, but CEO Richard Anderson said last week that the order would be canceled.

Atlanta-based Delta is the nation's third-biggest airline by traffic and just reported a record second-quarter adjusted profit of $1 billion. The pilots are Delta's only union work group.

Union leaders will meet Sept. 1-2 to elect a new chairman, said Donatelli, a Detroit-based Boeing 777 pilot who has flown for Delta since 1987. He was twice elected chairman, most recently for a two-year term that runs through 2016.