Bob Owens

Sep 9, 2002
The company has decided that they want $310 million in concessions in order to restore profitability from M&E. Well what exactly are they talking about? What level of profitability do they seek? It seems to me that in these times they should be satisfied with just seeking to cover costs. This is not too much to ask. We employees have sought that for years on our reduced paychecks, even during the greatest economic expansion in our history, many of us had to resort to working second and third jobs in order to do so. What level of profitability will the company achieve if all the labor groups come up with all the savings that the company is requesting and is that level reasonable to expect under current conditions?
We all know that the airlines are in an industry subject to cyclical events. Seasons, the economy, political events all have an impact. Are workers in this industry that historically has extreme swings in earnings justified, given such a history at resisting long-term concessions? Are we justified in resisting the pain when we have been excluded from the gain?
Are the employees obliged to ensure that at the worst of times the company makes a profit? While we all recognize that losses cannot be sustained over the long haul we also know from experience that despite our best efforts events and decisions beyond our control will lead to losses during some periods. Historically these periods have been brief, followed by massive profits for much longer periods.
310 million. What does that number represent? Does it represent the economic disadvantage that M&E imposes on the company compared to its competitors or is it an arbitrary number dreamed up by the company to achieve profitability? How can we even approach discussing meeting this goal when we have not been given the reason why this number is justified? If in fact our costs for maintenance do not present any disadvantage compared to our competitors then are we not perfectly justified in saying that no changes are justified? If thats the cae then would we have been justified in taking action in the middle of an existing contract to improve our rates of pay when they lag? If our costs are higher and uncompetitive well where does this cost come from? Does it come from us working an eight and one half hour day compared to UALs eight-hour day? No that puts at a cost advantage. Maybe it’s the fact that we do not do push backs like USAIR? No, the company decided that it was more cost effective to have fleet do it. Maybe it’s the deicing that we don’t do? No the company decided not to have us do it. Maybe it’s the pre-funding and contributory medical plans? No we pay more than workers for other airlines. Maybe it’s our pay? Well SWA, who despite their small size appears to be such a major threat, pays the same. Mechanics pay, industry wide is one of the few bargains as far as labor goes that the airline industries enjoy. The industry could probably maximize this benefit and increase productivity and reliability if they were not so resistant to regional pay. Trying to do away with shift differentials just shows how out of touch these morons are. To make such huge demands on peoples personal lives and not provide any economic incentive is just plain stupid. Its no wonder this industry is in the condition its in. Shift differentials are already extremely low when compared to other industries. In most areas of the country a shortage of aircraft mechanics existed before the recession. When the industry recovers this shortage is likely to become acute. Many of those who were laid off will not return, the supply of new mechanics are being siphoned off by other industries that pay the same or better without the uncertainties and personal sacrifices required in aviation and the Vietnam era workers are reaching retirement age.

We should prepare our defense for Bankruptcy court. Not that we will get a fair hearing at the court. We have to remember that the courts have justified the continued payments of bonuses towards top executives while at the same time slashing workers wages. Their excuse is that if the executives do not get the bonuses they may leave. We all must realize that these executives that led their companies into bankruptcy and helped shareholders lose millions of dollars are a hot commodity. In all fairness I guess we cant blame the courts. We should blame the unions. Just as executives can threaten to leave, possibly posing a minor threat to the creditors interests the unions could have fallen back on the RLA and told the courts that if their pay is altered it violates the status quo provisions of the act and frees them to self help which they will use. If executives are free to exercise self help and maintain their earnings and the court agrees that they are essential to the successful reorganization of the company what argument could the judge present to stop workers that make much, much less from doing the same?
One of the arguments that the companies have been presenting to the courts in order to back up their unreasonable requests for long term concessionary contracts is that the finance companies are demanding it. Well these finance companies are not exactly objective outsiders. They seek to benefit from lower labor costs also. Its like the Wolf and the Vulture giving advice to the sheep. Clearly the other two benefit from the formers loss. In order to void the agreements the code does say that ‘all parties must receive fair and equitable treatment’. But then again the courts make their decisions based upon the arguments presented. Who is speaking on labors behalf and what are they saying? We know that the rate, industry wide, for aircraft mechanics is not excessive for our skills. Will such points be brought forward in court or will such information be suppressed because of the fact that it may open the way for the company to compare other workers to comparable jobs in other industries?