Understanding ALPA''s Position on Freedom Airlines
Background on Mesa Groupâ€™s establishing Freedom Airlines:
Under Jonathan Ornsteinâ€™s control, Mesa Air Group operates wholly owned subsidiary carriers, which include Mesa Airlines, Air Midwest, and previously CCAir. The Mesa and Air Midwest pilots work under a single contract and a single pilot seniority list. In other words, Mesa and Air Midwest are a single pilot group.
The pilots of Mesa Airlines and Air Midwest, who are working under the same contract, are in federally mediated Section 6 contract negotiations seeking reasonable improvements in their pay, retirement, and working conditions.
Faced with the threat of job terminations on May 15, 2002, and an announced July 1, 2002, shutdown of the carrierâ€™s operation, the pilots of CCAir announced on April 29 that they voted to accept a management-proposed contract to ensure the continued operation of their company.
Although the proposal had been accepted by CCAir local union leaders and members, ALPAâ€™s Constitution and By-laws requires that its president review and approve each collective bargaining agreement before it can become effective.
ALPA President Duane Woerth declined to approve the extremely concessionary proposal, which came in the context of an unbroken campaign of threats and intimidation by CCAir and Mesa Air Group to shut down the carrier if the pilots did not give up their existing agreement. President Woerth refused to approve the proposed agreement because it unjustifiably degraded pilot working conditions and offered no job security for CCAir pilots in return for the concessions. President Woerth also determined that the carrierâ€™s management never demonstrated the need for the requested concessions and failed to show how the concessions would help save the carrier or the pilotsâ€™ jobs.
On July 17, ALPA filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona against Mesa Airlines, Mesa Air Group, and Jonathan Ornstein. In the suit, ALPA asked the Court to compel the Mesa defendants to bargain in good faith as outlined by the Railway Labor Act (RLA), and cease all efforts to undermine the organizational rights of Mesa Airlines pilots. It also requested that the Court enjoin the Mesa defendants from operating Freedom Airlines, a non-union start-up carrier, which they have threatened to use to divert work from the Mesa Airlines pilots.
Ornstein carried out his threat, and CCAir was shut down.
In September, ALPAâ€™s Executive Board passed a resolution strengthening its commitment to opposing Mesa Air Groupâ€™s formation of Freedom Airlines as an alter-ego carrier. Mesaâ€™s MEC Chairman, Captain Andy Hughes, said, We believe that Mesa Air Group CEO Jonathan Ornstein will use Freedom Airlines to divert work from the dedicated Mesa pilots and give our jobs to Freedom Airlines pilots, who donâ€™t have the benefits or protections of a union contract.â€
The formation of Freedom Airlines presents a threat to Mesa, especially as they are trying to negotiate improvements to their collective bargaining agreement.
Forming Freedom Airlines is also particularly onerous when most Mesa Air Group pilots flying for CCAir remain on furlough.
Jonathan Ornstein is transferring Mesa Airlines assets, jobs, and work opportunities to a non-union carrier to the detriment all Mesa Air Group employees, much in the way that Frank Lorenzo did under the umbrella of the Texas Air Corporation.
Freedom Airlines is a non-union airline. Freedom pilots will not have the protections and benefits of union representation or a union contract. Freedom pilots would be at-will employees subject to the whims of managementâ€™s decisions. Pilots would not have representation in disciplinary actions and would be subject to unilateral changes in their compensation, benefits, and working conditions.
The status of Freedom Airlines is subject to challenge in litigation brought by ALPA. The Association is alleging that Mesa Air Groupâ€™s use of Freedom Airlines to undermine the collective bargaining position of the Mesa pilots is a violation of the Railway Labor Act. In the ongoing lawsuit, ALPA is asking the federal court to enjoin Mesa Air Group from operating Freedom Airlines.
ALPA will also challenge Mesa Air Groupâ€™s ability to manage labor relations at Freedom Airlines separately from those of its other carriers. The National Mediation Board has already upheld the Associationâ€™s assertion that Mesa Airlines, Air Midwest, and CCAir are, in fact, a single carrier for collective bargaining purposes. If Freedom Airlines does begin operations, ALPA will seek a similar single-carrier ruling from the NMB as it applies to Freedom.
The US Airways MEC supports the Mesa MEC and their pilotsâ€™ efforts in their negotiations to accept the Jets for Jobs protocol in order to allow for Mesaâ€™s ability to operate small jets under US Airways code, and supports the Mesa pilots and ALPA Internationalâ€™s stance against the formation of Freedom Airlines.
Pilots accepting employment with Freedom Airlines while it is being established as an alter ego airline are harming not only Mesa pilots, but the entire piloting profession.
Pilots accepting employment at Freedom Airlines are, in effect, joining Jonathan Ornstein in his quest to undermine the collective bargaining rights of fellow ALPA pilots at Mesa.
The US Airways MEC and ALPA International have consistently made statements, and have taken the position, that the establishment of Freedom Airlines as non-union alter ego carrier is contrary to the best interest of Association and our members.
Pilots accepting employment with Freedom Airlines as an alter ego entity are harming themselves.
LOA 83 --Accelerated Small Jets:
The fact that Freedom Airlines could have been a participant in the Jets for Jobs protocol as a non-union alter ego carrier was unacceptable to the US Airways MEC. The issue was addressed in the recent negotiations with US Airways management on Letter of Agreement 83, Accelerated Small Jets. Section 2A in LOA 83 states:
2. The terms and conditions for placement of the Small Jet code share aircraft that are authorized to be placed at other carriers and flown under the US Airways code by the provisions of Attachments B, B-1, and B-3 of the Restructuring Agreement shall be modified under the terms and conditions stated below:
A. Up to 20 â€œMedium SJsâ€ and up to 30 â€œLarge SJsâ€ (CRJ-700 aircraft only) may be operated by Mesa Airlines or by any wholly owned subsidiary of Mesa Air Group or Mesa Airlines under terms agreed to between Mesa Air Group and the Association. Such aircraft shall be subject to the Jets for Jobs Protocol and must be placed into revenue
operation no later than December 31, 2004.
This language states that ALPA and Mesa Group must agree to terms concerning the placement of small jet aircraft at Mesa Group under US Airways code. It denies unilateral code sharing authority to Mesa Group for Freedom Airlines as a non-union alter ego carrier. Freedom Airlines cannot carry US Airwaysâ€™ code unless ALPA (Mesa MEC) agrees to terms to allow it.
The Mesa MEC and US Airways MEC have been working very closely to help both furloughed CCAir pilots and furloughed US Airways pilots. Mesa pilots have been seeking solutions with our Negotiating Committee to help our furloughed pilots get jobs opportunities under a Jets for Jobs agreement with Mesa. Likewise, the US Airways MEC has been working with Mesa MEC to help Mesa pilots in their difficult struggle against a hostile management. The goal for both MECs has been to secure jobs and help each other achieve acceptable working conditions for ALPA pilots.
The US Airways MEC is supporting the Mesa pilotsâ€™ position that it wants to have Freedom Airlines under the umbrella of ALPA-represented carriers at Mesa.
On December 18, the MEC unanimously passed the following resolution:
WHEREAS Mesa Air Group operates three wholly owned subsidiary carriers, Mesa Airlines, Air Midwest, and CCAir, and
WHEREAS the Mesa and Air Midwest pilots work under a single contract and a single pilot seniority list, and
WHEREAS Mesa Air Group is establishing Freedom Air as a non-union carrier operating 70- and 90-seat jets on a separate operating certificate while the Mesa Airlines pilots are in contract negotiations, seeking much-needed improvements in their compensation, retirement, and working conditions, and
WHEREAS Mesa management has stalled contract negotiations forcing ALPA to file a lawsuit asking the federal court to compel management to bargain in good faith as outlined by the Railway Labor Act, and
WHEREAS Mesa Air Groupâ€™s use of Freedom Airlines to undermine the collective bargaining position of the Mesa pilots is a violation of the Railway Labor Act, and
WHEREAS any pilot who accepts employment with Freedom Airlines is harming not only Mesa Air Group pilots, but also the entire piloting profession, and
WHEREAS ALPAâ€™s position is that Freedom Airlines is an alter-ego, runaway shop carrier created by Mesa Air Group specifically to undermine the collective bargaining strength, working conditions, and career aspirations of Mesa Airlines, CCAir, and Air Midwest pilots, and
WHEREAS Mesa Air Group is using Freedom Air to intimidate and threaten Mesa Airlines pilots with the transfer of work opportunities as a means of dictating pilot pay and working conditions, and
WHEREAS both the Executive Council and the Executive Board of the Air Line Pilots Association, International, have passed resolutions opposing Mesa Air Groupâ€™s formation of Freedom Air as an alter-ego carrier, pledging to use all appropriate means, including financial, legal, communications, and other resources, to prevent Mesa Air Group from establishing Freedom Air as an alter-ego carrier, and
WHEREAS some furloughed US Airways pilots have accepted employment with Freedom Air, thus engaging in actions detrimental to the Association, and
WHEREAS the US Airways MEC has obtained significant benefits for our furloughed pilots including access to the jumpseat, health insurance paid by an assessment of the pilot group, access to the US Airways website, access to the US Airways furlough administrator, and access to ALPA provided job search programs such as Airinc and others,
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the US Airways MEC directs its officers and Negotiating Committee to inform US Airways management that the US Airways MEC, especially in light of its significant financial contribution to the survival of US Airways, objects to any potential or contemplated code sharing arrangement with Freedom Air unless the entity is represented by ALPA, and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the US Airways MEC supports the actions of the Executive Council and Executive Board in opposing the formation of Freedom Air as a non-union entity, and directs that all furloughed US Airways pilots be notified of the Executive Board, Executive Council and MECâ€™s opposition to Freedom Air via the most expeditious and cost effective means, such as email, code-a-phone or regular mailing, and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that any pilot on the US Airways seniority list that accepts employment with Freedom Air will lose all US Airways MEC sponsored ALPA privileges including but not limited to jumpseat, health insurance, web access, furlough administrator access, and ALPA provided job search programs, and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that, if applicable, the US Airways MEC will file Article VIII charges against any US Airways seniority list pilot accepting or remaining in employment with Freedom Air after February 1, 2003 for engaging in action detrimental to the Association.
The MECâ€™s statements opposing the establishment of Freedom Airlines as an alter ego carrier have been clear and consistent ever since it learned (October 2002) that US Airways management was entering into a commercial code share agreement with Mesa Group.
Accordingly, the AAA message board may not be used to misrepresent MEC positions and promote furloughed pilots accepting employment at Freedom Airlines while it is being operated as a non-union alter ego carrier to the detriment of fellow ALPA pilots, both furloughed and active.
AAA message board participation must be conducted in a manner that is in compliance with ALPA Intranet Policy and consistent with being an ALPA member in good standing.
Your MEC representatives hope this information clarifies the issues concerning Freedom Airlines, as well as the very important ongoing efforts to obtain acceptable Jets for Jobs vacancies for US Airways furloughed pilots at Mesa Group.
Thank you for your understanding and support during these difficult times.