Pilots Decide To Day On Opening Contract?

usfliboi

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Hard-liners to head new lineup of US Airways' pilot union

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

By Dan Fitzpatrick, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Leaders of the US Airways' pilots union are expected to decide today whether they should reopen contract talks with the Arlington, Va.-based carrier, which is trying to lower labor costs as it gears up to battle low-fare rivals such as Southwest Airlines.

The anticipated vote, coming after two days of informal talks last week and a company presentation yesterday in Arlington, focuses attention yet again on the pilots' 12-member Master Executive Council, the decision-making body for 4,000 US Airways pilots, 800 of whom are based in the Pittsburgh area. These same MEC board members are responsible for a series of disputed decisions over the last few years, agreeing to $565 million in wage-and-benefit cuts and to major changes in the pilots pension plan without a vote of all pilots, a move that still rankles some of the rank and file.

If this group intends to cooperate with management on more contract changes, it had better hurry. Starting March 1, the composition of the pilots' governing board will change dramatically as six members give up their seats to six new pilots who, according to MEC board member Fred Freshwater, are less likely to allow management to change the contracts again.

The 55-year-old US Airways pilot said many of the new members believe as he does that "the pilots have given an inordinate amount" in concessions already. The pilots union expects the company to ask for work rule changes designed to make flying more efficient and productive.

The money-losing carrier is examining all options, including asset sales and a cutback in the number of regional jets already ordered, to raise much-needed cash and meet the milestones imposed by $900 million in government-backed loans. It is expected to lay out all of its options to board members later this week.

US Airways has retained New York investment bank Morgan Stanley to analyze potential asset sales to other airlines, and the company has approached GE Capital Corp. about reducing the $4 billion, 170-regional jet order financed last year by GE, with the hope that the extra jets could be offered to other commuter carriers.

One such carrier, Phoenix-based Mesa Air, said yesterday that it planned to add eight 50-seat jets to its existing service contract with US Airways. Mesa, which operates as US Airways Express, has said it was interested in buying US Airways assets.

If the company gets approval for contract talks with the pilots, any decisions on work rule changes or productivity improvements would need the approval of the MEC board, comprising two pilots from each US Airways "base" -- Pittsburgh; Philadelphia; New York; Washington, D.C.; Charlotte, N.C.; and Boston.

The pilots stationed at each base choose their two representatives, a captain and first officer, and have the power to recall board representatives, as the pilots in Pittsburgh did last year when they replaced Tim Baker with Freshwater. Baker lost his post because he was one of nine who voted to terminate the pilots pension plan in March, replacing it with a new, less generous plan. Baker was the only MEC member to be recalled over the pension fund vote, but six other board members in Charlotte, New York, Philadelphia and Washington either lost re-elections or did not run again.

Freshwater argues that the rank and file sent a message when voting for new MEC members who toe a harder line with the company. "These pilots were put in by fairly significant margins," Freshwater said. "The pilots spoke fairly clearly that they do have somewhat of a different mind-set than what you currently see on the MEC."

Baker, the representative recalled over the pension vote, acknowledged the tensions, saying last month: "Do I understand why they took me out? Do I understand why the guys in Charlotte didn't win their re-election? Yes, I do. Is it the right decision? Well, I don't think it was."

When six new members join the MEC board in March, the two Pittsburgh representatives -- Freshwater and John Brookman -- will retain their seats on the board. Both are hard-liners.

Brookman voted against last spring's pension fund changes, and both he and Freshwater voted two weeks ago against sending the MEC's negotiating committee to US Airways' headquarters for a "fact-finding mission," thinking it made the pilots look too eager to negotiate. They were overruled on that vote, which reopened a dialogue between the pilots and management, leading to today's anticipated vote.

Bill Pollock, chairman of the MEC, defends the decisions of the past year by saying that the company would not have been able to make it out of bankruptcy without concessions from the pilots and that any criticism is from "Monday morning quarterbacks" who "weren't there."

Pollock's term ends March 23, only a few weeks after the six new members take office. He said last month that he had not decided whether to seek re-election.

The chairman could have scheduled the vote before the new officers start, "But I didn't think that was in the best interests of the pilot groups," Pollock said last month in an interview. "The council representatives that come in should elect their officers, whether they like me or not."



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
(Dan Fitzpatrick can be reached at dfitzpatrick@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1752.)

Copyright ©1997-2004 PG Publishing Co., Inc. All Rights Reserved.
 

mwereplanes

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Jan 21, 2004
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They should open the contract when Siegel is gone. That SHOULD be the stipulation. Of course, that is not the way it is going to go down. The weak and scared members will vote to open it and allow more "enabling" to occur. The pilots cannot and will not save this airline. But that will not stop them from trying.

mr
 

PITbull

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Dec 29, 2002
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I am just simply amazed (shaking head).....

After the hardline retorhic of asking for this managment's "ouster" they now will sit with them and open up thier contracts and bascially tell them "help yourselves".

With the damn "me too" clauses, this move will send at least two AFA MEC voting members that I know of, right through the roof! :angry:
 

mwereplanes

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Jan 21, 2004
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IMO it is disgraceful for a group of men to UNANIMOUSLY vote to call for Siegel's ouster and then sit down and talk with the same man. If the MEC has no confidence in his ability to run the company how can they possibly call for the negotiating committee to open the contract to help these incompentent money managers continue to run us into the ground?

I am proud of the PIT and one PHL representative and their stand. I am totally ashamed of the lack of backbone of the rest of the MEC. What we have given is more than ANY group of pilots has ever given to a management. What they choose to give now will be useless to this inept management who can't even begin to understand how to run an airline. It is shameful and outright cowardly by this MEC to do what they are about to do. On behalf of the PIT group of ALPA pilots I apologize to our brothers and sisters of the AFA.

mr
 

ktflyhome

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As I think I understand, from a Pilot I just flew with, there HAS to be a vote this time around. I was told that the ALPH MEC cannot arbitrarily vote among themselves. They need all Pilots to vote. :huh:
 

PITbull

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mr,

The two AFA MEC Council reps are in support of the views of the PIT ALPA local reps and their position. Just hope they have the ability to convince the fear out of the rest of the ALPA MEC.

Expect management to be in full force on these boards today. FYI. :ph34r:
 
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usfliboi

usfliboi

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Aug 20, 2002
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WELL AFA wanted and fought for me too !!! THEY GOT IT ! Deal with it! Afa too will sit down and do the same no doubt. Theres a difference between rhtoric and reality! Were dealing with peoples jobs and incomes. Alapa is gonna keep their income coming in and the only way to do that is to talk! The needs of the many , outway the needs of the few. I dont like either, but we gotta play smart.
 

pitguy

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I can not see any reason for the employees to give up more of anything. The third party work of the Airbus maintenance should be saving the company more than enough. Unless this company can never get back enough from the employees. Sounds to me like they want it all. They said the needed 300 million. Well they got that today. They company has stated they did not expect to win the farm out issue so you know they were not counting on it. Did something change to day that they would need EVEN MORE money.
 
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2BorNot2B

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On behalf of the PIT group of ALPA pilots I apologize to our brothers and sisters of the AFA.

mr


:huh:

How can you do that? Are you a designated Spokesman or ALPA Representative??
 

28yearsnojob

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Jan 2, 2004
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:down: :angry: ALpa turn in the hot seat they will give give give because no one
else is going to give anything.
 

PITbull

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usfliboi said:
WELL AFA wanted and fought for me too !!! THEY GOT IT ! Deal with it! Afa too will sit down and do the same no doubt. Theres a difference between rhtoric and reality! Were dealing with peoples jobs and incomes. Alapa is gonna keep their income coming in and the only way to do that is to talk! The needs of the many , outway the needs of the few. I dont like either, but we gotta play smart.
USfliboi,

Play smart? We?

And your strategy would be what, pray tell?
 
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usfliboi

usfliboi

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Aug 20, 2002
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PITbull said:
USfliboi,

Play smart? We?

And your strategy would be what, pray tell?
Do what were getting ready to do ! Talk to the company and allow reality to settle in . Not m aking crazy comments in public that not only damages the company but unions crediblity I can say all of this but we know the outcome. Afa will talk come to some sort of agreement and present it to its members and it will pass.
 

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