Its all our fault


Sep 16, 2002
yesterday''s editorial from
Airlines need this labor-law update
January 22, 2003
Our position is: Indiana representatives should support a bill that would reform the outdated Railway Labor Act of 1926.
U.S. airlines are facing the biggest challenge in their history. Unless they are able to get labor costs under control, states such as Indiana stand to lose billions in commerce and wages.

Indiana''s congressional representatives have a chance to do something that would stop the hemorrhaging. They should support legislation to reform the antiquated Railway Labor Act of 1926.
Intended to govern the railroads, the nation''s major transportation mode at that time, the law today applies to air transportation also. Though it was supposed to prevent strikes, it has failed to dissuade pilots, mechanics, flight attendants and ground workers from staging crippling walkouts. These labor stoppages have not only forced management into expensive, unworkable labor agreements, they''ve delayed the companies'' inevitable day of financial reckoning.
The United Airlines bankruptcy -- brought on by a labor dispute with pilots and now clouding the future of the Indy maintenance facility -- is a case in point.
United filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Dec. 9 because it couldn''t keep up with escalating union salary demands. A precursor to United''s problems came when its pilots staged a work slowdown in 2000 that cost the company $700 million it never recovered.
The action cost millions in canceled flights, but even more due to wage concessions that would temporarily be the envy of their counterparts at other air carriers: raises ranging from 22 percent to 28 percent, and 4.5 percent annual wage hikes through 2004.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has introduced a bill that would force both labor and management toward more reasonable offers and into binding arbitration. The Indiana and Indianapolis Chambers of Commerce and the Indiana Manufacturers Association are among groups supporting the initiative.
Aviation has an $18.6 billion impact on Indiana''s economy and is responsible for 227,000 Hoosier jobs, many of which hang in the balance due to continued uncertainty in the airline industry.
Indiana''s congressional delegation should support the McCain bill, which will bring more certainty to labor negotiations and more security to communities such as Indianapolis that rely heavily on air commerce, air travel and related businesses