March 7, 2001
ALPA Leadership Votes Expedited Strike Benefits for Comair Pilots
WASHINGTON, D.C.---The Executive Council of the Air Line Pilots Association, International has voted to recommend that the Associations Board of Directors provide expedited strike benefits to Comair pilots, in the event that they fail to reach a negotiated settlement by March 26, the end of a government-mandated 30-day cooling off period.
The action would cut the normal 35-day waiting period for strike benefits to 14 days from the beginning of a Comair strike, if a contract is not achieved. The unions Board of Directors has an April 2 deadline for its finalizing vote on the proposals, which would provide approximately $2 million per month in strike benefits.
"We have pledged our full support to the Comair pilots, to do our utmost for them in their efforts to achieve a fair and equitable contract," said Capt. Duane Woerth, president of ALPA. "Management has stonewalled the Comair labor talks for three years now, an unconscionable tactic that has stretched the pilots patience past the breaking point. No one wants this to come to a strike; but the Comair pilots resolve, coupled with the resources of a strong national union, puts management on notice that absent a settlement, they should be prepared for a long, tough battle."
Comair pilots announced that they have established their second strike center, in Orlando. Last week, their main strike center in Cincinnati was opened after talks broke off and the National Mediation Board released both parties February 23, starting the 30-day countdown. Funding for Comair pilots strike preparation activities comes from an initial $2 million allocation made September 1998 from the Major Contingency Fund. "If a strike actually occurs, I will insure that additional funds from our more than $70 million war chest will be made available to support our Comair pilots," 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. 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. 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: Capt. Paul Lackie (859) 282-0656