Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (CBS 11 NEWS) — If the Allied Pilots Association wanted to get American Airlines’ attention, it surely did.

Tom Hoban of the Allied Pilots Association says, “This represents a shot across the bow.”

Two weeks after pilots rejected the airline’s last, best contract offer, union leaders announced they’re planning to ask their members if they want to go on strike.

Hoban says, “This is a message that you have 8,000 very angry pilots that simply aren’t going to take it anymore.”

On appeal, American is again asking a bankruptcy judge to throw out its existing pilots’ contract. If the judge approves, American would be able to impose lower pay and benefits.

Hoban says, “If the corporation chooses to take seven years of collective bargaining and throw it down the drain, I think we can expect a strike authorization ballot.”

In a statement, American spokesman Bruce Hicks said, “Any form of job action by pilots would be unlawful, either before or after a decision by the Court on the company’s Motion to Reject the pilot contract…”

The airline though says it still hopes to reach a consensual deal with the pilots.

Denny Kelly, a retired airline captain, says American’s pilots still have some leverage.

“Absolutely, they’re throwing down the gauntlet.  This is the last thing they can do to get a better contract and they’re really playing it tough.”

But the pilots are still a long way from going on strike. The union would still have to call for a vote, pilots would still have to vote to strike, and then the union would have to formally request the National Mediation Board for permission to strike. And even if the NMB granted approval, the President could still intervene, and order the pilots back to work.

The pilots union says this could take several months. The pilots union also revealed the CEO of U-S Airways, Douglas Parker came to town Wednesday to meet with them.

U-S Airways wants to merge with American. The union though says it did not discuss their strike vote plans with U-S Airways.

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