Southwest Airlines Pilots Association members have given their union a virtually unanimous strike mandate as negotiations with the airline grow increasingly tense. A total of 99 percent of 98 percent of the union’s approximately 10,000 members voted to authorize a strike if it’s permitted by the National Mediation Board. There’s a lot of legal ground to cover before it ever comes to that so a strike is far from imminent, but it was noteworthy enough for both parties to comment on Saturday.

The company said the vote won’t affect its approach to negotiations, which are still going on. It also stressed that it will have no effect on flights. “Our negotiating team continues to bargain in good faith and work toward reaching a new agreement to reward our pilots,” said VP of Labor Relations Adam Carlisle. Union President Casey Murray said the vote marked a “historic day” for both the union and the company. “The lack of leadership and the unwillingness to address the failures of our organization have led us to this point,” Murray said.

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