Release # 01.24
March 25, 2001
Comair Pilots Outraged as Management Abandons NegotiationsWASHINGTON, DC---As a 12:01 AM Monday strike deadline looms, the pilots of Comair, Inc., represented by the Air Line Pilots Association today expressed outrage over Comair management's abandoning negotiations in Washington, DC, thereby almost certainly assuring a strike.
"With so few hours remaining before a possible strike, our management should be at the bargaining table making good-faith efforts to achieve a contract. This is an obligation of anyone participating in the negotiations process," said Captain J.C. Lawson, chairman of the Comair pilots' Master Executive Council (MEC), the ALPA leadership body at Comair." But we are now at Sunday afternoon and, incredibly, our management abandoned the negotiations process. With so much at stake, that's unconscionable." Instead of negotiating in good faith management set the stage to reduce its offer after midnight.
On February 23, the National Mediation Board released Comair pilots and management into a 30-day cooling-off period that expires at midnight on Sunday, March 25. The NMB released the parties from federal mediation on the condition that ALPA submit management's settlement offer to the pilot membership for a vote. Pilots voted down the settlement by a margin of 99.45 percent.
"That vote was loud, clear, and unambiguous," continued Lawson. "Yet our management continues to stall on that rejected offer. Our management knows that this pilot group expects a real contract -- one appropriate for their role as real pilots flying one of the most modern jet-powered fleets in the world, and serving passengers across the United States and to three foreign countries. For example, Comair pilots’ starting salary is $14,562 a year and would increase to only $18,810 per year at the conclusion of management’s last rejected offer. The Comair pilots have not had an increase in compensation since June 1997. Such an approach is totally unacceptable. It indicates that management has not been serious about providing a real contract offer to avoid a dispute,” Lawson said.
"Unfortunately, this management's failure to make a serious effort to reach an agreement at this late date is all too familiar. It explains why they made no movement at the bargaining table since their settlement proposal of March 2, 2001. It's why these negotiations have inched along over three years, and it's why the pilots are so unified and motivated to stand up for a real contract," said Captain Duane Woerth, President of the Air Line Pilots Association. "An agreement is definitely obtainable during these final hours. The Comair pilot leadership and negotiating committee remain available and willing to negotiate. We hope that Comair management will act responsibly and return to the table immediately. The Comair pilots have the full support of ALPA’s 59, 000 pilots behind them," Woerth 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.
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. ALPA represents more than 59,000 airline pilots at 49 airlines in the U.S. and Canada. Its Web site is at http://cf.alpa.org.
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ALPA Contact: Paul Lackie, (859) 282-2534