August 19, 2013
While Evergreen Airlines’ Debt Piles Up, Pilots’ Pension Plans Go Unpaid
MCMINNVILLE, Ore.—Evergreen International Airlines (EIA) has been in financial jeopardy for the past year. Unpaid judgments and debts to the airline’s crewmembers and other employees, as well as vendors, have prompted the Evergreen pilots and flight engineers, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), to question the survivability of their airline when taking into account its debt load.
“It’s hard to go to work, sometimes on the other side of the world, and not know if the airline will shut down or if you’re going to get paid for your services,” said Capt. James Touchette, chairman of Evergreen’s Master Executive Council at ALPA.
This summer, a Yamhill County judge in McMinnville granted judgments against the airline for overdue contributions to the pilots’ pension plans. Evergreen signed two confessions of judgments for the pension contributions for 2011 and 2012. The first payment of $744,651 went unpaid in May, and the second payment of $680,359 was due on August 15 and was not paid.
“Even with a court-ordered judgment, Evergreen is reneging on its obligation to pay into our pension plans, and it is a substantial amount of money,” said Touchette. “A properly managed airline does not conduct business in such a manner—it is unprofessional.”
In addition to the unpaid company contributions to their pension plans, Evergreen crewmembers have experienced further negative effects of the company’s financial situation in the form of late paychecks, having their own voluntary contributions to their 401(k) plans delayed, and being required to use personal credit cards at crew hotels across the globe due to company cards being declined.
“We are alarmed that Evergreen has so much debt and isn’t taking the necessary steps to pay it off and get back on track to keep the airline afloat,” said Touchette. “We have to ask, ‘Will the airline survive? With all of the judgments and liens on the company, which is paid first? Does the management team continue to ignore the judgments filed against them and default on them like our pensions?’”
Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilots union, representing more than 50,000 pilots at 33 airlines in the United States and Canada, including 188 pilots and flight engineers at Evergreen, with 88 of them on furlough. Visit the ALPA website at www.alpa.org.
Tawnya Burket, ALPA Communications, 724-622-6738/Tawnya.Burket@alpa.org
Capt. James Touchette, EIA MEC Chairman, 618-401-1284