Air Wisconsin Pilots Return to Their United Roots, but Still Wait for a New Contract

Air Wisconsin pilots recently marked two significant milestones:

  1. #FlyingHome to their roots with United Airlines, once again serving passengers in the Midwest via Chicago O’Hare International Airport.
  2. Reaching the seventh anniversary of opening negotiations for a new working agreement.

While the recent capacity purchase agreement with United Airlines marks the continuation of Air Wisconsin flying, which was previously in question,reaching seven years without a new contract brings continued frustration for the hard-working pilots.

The pilots have been in negotiations with the airline’s management team since October 2010, and the most recent mediated talks have failed once again to produce an acceptable agreement.

Without a new contract, a steady stream of Air Wisconsin pilots is leaving for other airlines. The pilot group, which once consisted of more than 800 pilots, has dwindled to just over 500 pilots. Attracting new pilots could become even harder if management remains unwilling to offer clear economic gains that pilots can recognize and appreciate.

Meanwhile, pilots at Endeavor Air (a competitor of Air Wisconsin) are voting on a new tentative agreement that would make them the highest-paid pilots in the fee-for-departure segment.

The bar is being raised, along with contract expectations, for all regional airline pilots—and Air Wisconsin is falling behind.

“It’s time for management to offer a contract with economic gains the pilots can clearly understand and recognize. Nearing a decade of continuous contract negotiations is unreasonable,” said Capt. Chris Suhs, chairman of ALPA’s Air Wisconsin group. “The market is rapidly changing, the industry is on the move, and competition in the pilot labor market is heating up. Air Wisconsin must recognize these new realities and come back to the table with an agreement for its current and future pilots.”

Categories: Pilot Groups