Release #: SCA 15.04
July 29, 2015
Sun Country Pilots Seek Agreement or Release from Mediation
Ask Government to Proffer Arbitration if One Last Round of Talks Fail
BLOOMINGTON, Minn.—After more than five years at the bargaining table, Sun Country Airlines pilots have asked the federal government to declare an impasse and release them from government-supervised talks if the airline and its pilots can’t reach a tentative agreement after one more round of mediation.
The Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA), which represents the 250 pilots at Sun Country, sent a letter Thursday to the National Mediation Board (NMB) in Washington, D.C., requesting that the Board schedule a final mediation session as soon as possible. If that session doesn’t end with a tentative agreement, ALPA asks that the Board end mediation and make a proffer of arbitration, which could start the clock for a 30-day cooling-off period and a future strike, if it becomes absolutely necessary.
“We truly hope that the Company will change its position during our next mediation session without imposition of a cooling-off period, and a strike deadline," said MEC Chairman Brian Roseen. "Sun Country pilots have always wanted a consensual agreement that recognizes their contributions to the success of the airline. We're returning to mediation with a willingness to do our part to avoid a work stoppage, but we've been negotiating for five years."
Despite efforts at compromise by the union, Sun Country and its pilots remain far apart on economic issues, especially pay rates. Sun Country pilots are the lowest-paid Boeing 737 pilots for any scheduled-service U.S. airline. Their goal is a contract that would move them closer to the midrange of their peers.
In the letter to the NMB, ALPA president Capt. Tim Canoll wrote that Sun Country pilots continue to work under a 2005 contract with a chart of hourly pay rates that was fixed in 2005. While pilot compensation and benefits at other airlines continue to improve, pay rates at Sun Country have remained stagnant in the ten-and-a-half years since its last pilot contract was signed.
“The Sun Country pilots continue to fall further and further behind while waiting for a new contract to be completed,” Canoll wrote. “If a comprehensive agreement can't be reached at the next mediation session, the Association does not believe that further mediation will lead to an agreement and instead believes that further bargaining in the absence of a deadline will be futile.”
Sun Country and ALPA opened contract talks in April 2010 and entered federal mediation in May 2012. If the NMB releases the parties from mediation and either side rejects the offer of binding arbitration, the parties will enter a 30-day cooling-off period, after which time the pilots can legally go on strike.
Founded in 1931, ALPA is the largest airline pilot union in the world and represents over 52,000 pilots at 31 U.S. and Canadian airlines. Visit the ALPA website at www.alpa.org or follow us on Twitter @WeAreALPA.
CONTACT: ALPA Media, 703-481-4440 or Media@alpa.org