February 25, 2001
NMB Releases Comair Parties for Possible Strike; Pilots Announce Opening of Strike Centers
CINCINNATI---Pilot negotiators at Comair rejected a proffer of arbitration by the National Mediation Board on Friday, prompting the NMB to release both parties from negotiations. This starts a 30-day countdown to a potential strike at the airline at 12:01 a.m. March 26.
Comair pilots, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, Intl. (ALPA), immediately announced that effective Monday, they are activating their Cincinnati strike center. The strike center, which will be used to prepare and coordinate strike communications and logistics, is located near Comairs operations at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. A second strike center is opening in the near future, close to the carriers Orlando operations.
"We remain committed to achieving a negotiated settlement," said Capt. Paul Lackie, a spokesman for the Comair pilots. "But nearly three years of fruitless negotiations have made it clear that we must be prepared to stand up for a fair contract using every legal and necessary means available to us."
"Sticking points in the talks include pay, benefits and working conditions. We are particularly concerned about providing an adequate retirement plan, plus numerous quality of life issues," Lackie said.
Comair pilots have been in contract negotiations since June 1998 and in mediation since July 1999. After the 30-day cooling off period, pilots could strike. Contract talks could continue during the cooling off period, and neither side is required to take self-help action after the 30 days.
In July 2000, the Comair pilots approved a strike ballot, giving their pilot leadership the discretion to call a strike if the mandatory 30-day cooling-off period lapses without a contract agreement.
Nearly 97 percent of the Comair pilots voted on the strike ballot issue and, of that group, more than 99 percent voted to authorize their pilot leadership to call a strike if necessary.
Although no agreement was reached between the parties, pursuant to an agreement last week with the NMB, ALPA will circulate the companys settlement offer to Comair pilots for them to vote on. The Comair Master Executive Council, the local union governing body, has yet to decide whether to endorse or recommend the agreement.
"The Comair pilots have made enormous personal sacrifices to build what has become the worlds most profitable passenger airline," Lackie stated. "We expect, and we will achieve, an agreement that properly rewards our investment, values our worth, and respects our families."
ALPA represents nearly 1,350 pilots at Comair. It is the worlds oldest and largest pilots union, representing more than 59,000 pilots at 49 airlines in the U.S. and Canada. The ALPA Web site is http://cf.alpa.org.
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ALPA CONTACT: Paul Lackie (859) 282-0656