March 26, 2001
Comair Pilots Launch Strike, Condemn Management for Abandoning Negotiations
WASHINGTON, D.C.---The following statement was issued today by Captain J.C. Lawson, chairman of the Comair pilots' Master Executive Council, a unit of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA).
"As of 12:01 a.m. EST, on March 26, Comair pilots are on strike. Following more than three years of fruitless negotiations, management's team abandoned negotiations on Sunday, assuring a strike. They walked away with several hours left -- plenty of time if they would just get real -- before the strike deadline. Following the Comair pilots' overwhelming rejection of management's settlement offer, we returned to Washington, D.C., verified our latest proposals from pilot surveys, and presented to management our requirements for change. Comair management refused to respond to those offers, and made no effort to respond all weekend. With so much at stake, management's abandoning of the negotiating process is outrageous.
"We have negotiated with Comair management for more than three years to achieve a fair contract that recognizes our real worth to this company. Comair pilots start with salary of $15,000 per year. In addition, average salaries for our highly trained pilots, who have numerous years of flight experience and advanced education, are incredibly low for an airline of this size, sophistication, and profitability. In response to our concerns about compensation, retirement, work rules, and job security, our management has generally offered nothing more than numbers that sounded great but didn't add up. They have continued to negotiate using smoke, mirrors, and slight of hand. Unfortunately, management has refused to address our issues at the negotiating table prior to our strike deadline, leaving us with no choice but to walk away from our livelihoods to get the contract that we deserve.
"Our proposals are fair and reasonable, especially for an airline as immensely profitable and successful as Comair. Thus far, managements proposals have fallen far short of any pilot group in our circumstances. Nonetheless, we remain fully committed to working with management to resolve this situation. After all, we are professional airline pilots, and we want to be flying, not walking the picket line."
Captain Duane Woerth, President of the Air Line Pilots Association, 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 offer 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. The Comair pilots have the full support of ALPAs 59, 000 pilots behind them."
Comair pilots have been in contract negotiations since June 1998 and in mediation since July 1999.
Formed in 1931, ALPA is the worlds oldest and largest pilots union, representing 59,000 airline pilots at 49 carriers in the United States and Canada. Its Web site is at http://cf.alpa.org.
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ALPA CONTACT: Capt. Paul Lackie (859) 282-2534