Published: Aug 22, 2012 7:26 PM EDT
Updated: Aug 23, 2012 6:30 AM EDT

DALLAS (AP) - Leaders of the pilots' union at American Airlines have raised the threat of a strike and also met with the CEO of US Airways, which is pursuing a labor-backed merger with American.

The Allied Pilots Association says that it will hold a strike-authorization vote as soon as American tries to use the bankruptcy process to throw out its contract with pilots and impose new pay and work rules.

The airline said that a strike would be illegal.

A hearing on American's request to cancel the pilots' contract is scheduled for Sept. 4 before a federal bankruptcy judge in New York.

Federal law makes it difficult for airline unions to legally strike.