January 24, 2006
Mesaba Employees Oppose Management Incentive Plans
Airline management seeks to retain bonuses amid employee concessions.
MINNEAPOLIS – Mechanics, flight attendants, and pilots at Mesaba Airlines are speaking out against the inequity of rewarding Mesaba’s management team with $2.2 million in bonus money at the very same time as the carrier tries to impose 20% cuts on its rank and file employees. Mesaba Airlines has filed a motion in bankruptcy court seeking authorization to pay bonuses that are worth up to 60% of executive base pay, in addition to issuing stock appreciation rights in MAIR Holdings, to its top officers and directors. The vast majority of Mesaba’s employees do not have access to the substantial benefit offered by these plans.
“This is the same double standard that we have seen over and over. Mesaba has sufficient cash to pay out more than $2.2 million in management bonuses a few months from now, but Mesaba is also claiming that it no longer has the resources to honor our contract,” stated flight attendant Carla Rogat, vice president of the Association of Flight Attendants’ unit for Mesaba (AFA-CWA). “MAIR Holdings is sitting on $120 million in cash, but Mesaba management says we can’t access that money either. This bankruptcy is a shell game, and it needs to be stopped.”
The official Committee of Unsecured Creditors appointed in the Mesaba bankruptcy case has filed an objection to Mesaba’s planned payouts, noting that the criteria and the magnitude of the payouts are not consistent with the expectations of a business that has put itself in bankruptcy. Mesaba proposes to provide its officers with 52 weeks’ pay in the event of termination, even though four of the company’s six officers have been with Mesaba for less than a full year; three for less than six months. The Unsecured Creditors Committee argues this is “unjustifiable.”
“This is a time when everyone should pull together. Management’s willingness to publicly fight to preserve its compensation - on terms far in excess of what anyone else is expected to live on -- shows a complete disregard for employee morale. The same rules should be applied to everyone, but Mesaba’s management team has demonstrated that it is incapable of acting in either a fair or equitable manner,” exclaimed Kevin Wildermuth, negotiating committee chairman for the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA). “It’s a slap in the face of every loyal and hard-working Mesaba employee.”
ALPA filed its own objection in court to the plans last December. Captain Tom Wychor, chairman of the Mesaba MEC, noted the strength of the unity among Mesaba’s employees. “We have a strong union labor coalition, and we want to work together for the good of Mesaba Airlines.”
“Mesaba and MAIR Holdings executives have treated Mesaba as a cash cow, and by their actions in court, they have shown that they will continue to bleed Mesaba of its earnings,” contends Wychor. “We believe that Mesaba can successfully emerge from bankruptcy, but we need a business plan that invests in our airline, not a carpetbagger executive team that has neither longevity nor loyalty to Mesaba.”
Mesaba Airlines operates as a Northwest Airlink partner under a service agreement with Northwest Airlines. Currently, Mesaba serves 111 cities in 30 states and Canada from Northwest’s and Mesaba’s three major hubs: Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, and Memphis. Mesaba employees operate and service an advanced fleet of 100 regional jet and jet-prop aircraft consisting of the 69-passenger Avro RJ85, the 50-passenger CRJ-200, and the 30- 34-passenger Saab SF340.
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the flight attendant profession and the 60th anniversary of the Association of Flight Attendants. More than 46,000 flight attendants join together to form AFA-CWA, the world’s largest flight attendant union. AFA-CWA is part of the 700,000-member strong Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO. Visit the AFA website at www.afanet.org for more information.
Maintenance technicians at Mesaba are represented by AMFA, a craft oriented, independent aviation union created in 1962 with over 16,000 members at eight airlines. AMFA's creed is, "Safety In The Air Begins With Quality Maintenance On The Ground". Visit the AMFA website at www.amfanatl.org.
Founded in 1931, ALPA also celebrates its 75th anniversary this year representing 62,000 pilots, including 850 Mesaba pilots, at 39 airlines in the U.S. and Canada. Visit the ALPA website at www.alpa.org for more information.
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SOURCE: Mesaba Airlines Labor Coalition
ALPA CONTACT: Scott Patz, 612-396-7795
AMFA CONTACT: Kevin Wildermuth, 404-808-8120
AFA CONTACT: Carla Rogat, 612-801-4141