October 16, 2006
Mesaba Pilots Question Justice In Bankruptcy Court 1113(c) Ruling
BLOOMINGTON, MN --- Mesaba pilot union leaders vowed to continue their fight to protect the careers of their members in the wake of today’s Bankruptcy Court decision once again granting management’s 1113(c) motion to reject labor’s collective bargaining agreements. The pilots, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l, say this decision takes them closer to a potential strike or exodus of employees at the airline. ALPA will aggressively appeal the ruling.
ALPA firmly believes that Mesaba pilots have the right to strike and they intend to use that right when management imposes its terms instead of negotiating a mutually acceptable agreement. If the court also approves Mesaba’s motion for an injunction to stop a strike, ALPA intends to forcefully litigate on that issue as well.
“Mesaba labor won the appeal of this court’s initial 1113(c) decision because management did not meet the nine requirements set forth by bankruptcy law to allow for the imposition of new terms,” said Captain Tom Wychor, head of the ALPA unit at Mesaba. “And in our estimation, they failed to meet those requirements again.”
“If the company’s economics have changed to the extent that it now requires less than the original 19.4 percent concessions from employees, as evidenced by their new request to impose 17.5 percent over 5.5 years, then the unions have a right to all the information that led to that decision, but that didn’t occur,” Wychor said.
ALPA recognizes Mesaba’s need for cost savings, which is why the pilots’ last proposal to management offered a 15 percent labor cost reduction – a savings that by the company’s own financial model would guarantee it a six percent profit margin.
“Our Negotiating Committee worked around the clock over the weekend using the extra time Judge Kishel gave us to try to come to terms with management on a consensual deal,” said Wychor. “We have made some progress, and we are committed to continuing our efforts, but we can not meet the new management target of 17.5 percent. The cuts are simply too deep,” Wychor added.
Mesaba’s ALPA leaders are planning a job fair for Mesaba pilots to assist them in finding better employment opportunities where pilots can expect professional wages and benefits in accordance with their extensive experience and responsibilities as airline pilots. They have also been in constant contact with their counterparts at many other ALPA carriers to secure preferential hiring for Mesaba pilots should management impose new terms.
“It’s a matter of survival, and being able to earn a living that provides for your family,” Wychor said. “And I’m sure that our passengers would prefer that the pilots at the helm of any aircraft are compensated fairly, instead of knowing that a pilot has to hold down two jobs just to make ends meet. If this airline imposes its terms, or if pilots strike, liquidation is nearly a foregone conclusion. Management will have sealed the fate of our airline.”
Founded in 1931, ALPA celebrates its 75th anniversary this year representing 62,000 pilots, including 850 Mesaba pilots, at 40 airlines in the U.S. and Canada. Visit the ALPA website at www.alpa.org for more information.
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Contact: Kris Pierson, 612-839-0789