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News ReleaseRelease #03.077
Northwest Airlink May Suffer Pilot Strike, Work Stoppage Would End NWA Service to Over One Hundred Cities
WASHINGTON, D.C. --- The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) announced today that Mesaba Airlines pilots have overwhelmingly authorized a strike should union leaders call for a work stoppage at one of the nation’s largest regional airlines. The pilots voted 98 percent in favor of a strike.
"Our goal is a fair and equitable contract, not a strike," said Captain Tom Wychor, chairman of the Mesaba unit of ALPA. "The bargaining process needs a deadline so that we can achieve this goal."
The pilots agreed to a concessionary contract in 1996, saving the company more than $10 million in labor costs to date. Starting salaries for Mesaba pilots, who operate both jet and turboprop airliners, is less than $17,000 per year. After three years that salary is only $24,000.
Contract negotiations between Mesaba and ALPA commenced in June of 2001, and have been federally mediated since August 2002. Remaining open issues include compensation, job security, work rules and retirement.
"Our pilots have sent a clear and bold message to management today," said Wychor. "If we can’t come to terms with management on a new agreement that recognizes our contributions to this company, our pilots are prepared to strike."
ALPA has petitioned the National Mediation Board (NMB), the government agency that oversees airline and railroad labor disputes, for a release from mediation. This would trigger a 30-day cooling off period after which pilots could strike. The NMB has not yet made a formal response to the request.
Mesaba Airlines, a subsidiary of MAIR Holdings, Inc., operates as a "Northwest Airlink" partner for Minneapolis-based Northwest Airlines. Mesaba operates over 800 daily departures from the mainline hubs of Minneapolis/St. Paul, Detroit, and Memphis to smaller "spoke" cities. Mesaba pilots safely transported 460,018 passengers to and from Northwest Airlines cities last month alone.
Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilot union representing 66,000 pilots at 42 airlines in the U.S. and Canada. Visit the ALPA Web site at http://www.alpa.org.
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ALPA CONTACT: Kris Pierson – 612-839-0789