October 3, 2006
Mesaba Employees Propose Plan to Save Airline
Pilots, Flight Attendants and Mechanics Present Joint Proposal to Management; Only Remaining Issue is Level of Profitability
MINNEAPOLIS – Labor unions representing pilots, flight attendants, and mechanics at bankrupt Mesaba Airlines today presented airline management with an unprecedented joint offer to save their airline, their jobs, and their contracts.
“Mesaba has over sixty years of pride as a ‘Hometown Airline,’ with great people, great service, and an impeccable safety and performance record. By attacking labor, and using the court system to impose unnecessarily severe cuts in wages and benefits, management is destroying Mesaba,” states Capt. Tom Wychor, chairman of the Mesaba unit of the Air Line Pilots Association, International. “The employees built this airline, and we are doing our best to save it.”
The Mesaba Labor Coalition has offered wage, work rule and benefit concessions that will cut labor costs by 15% for the next three years. Because airline contracts do not terminate, the savings will continue well beyond that term. If Mesaba agrees to the proposal, the unions would begin a ratification process immediately.
Mesaba will not only be able to reorganize and exit successfully from bankruptcy with the level of cuts offered by the unions, but it would also achieve profit margins that substantially exceed those of previous years. Mesaba proposes to cut labor costs so that it can achieve an 8% profit margin. The coalition plan will enable Mesaba to produce at least a 6% margin. In recent years, profit margins have dwindled to just 2-3%.
“We are not talking about the difference between Mesaba being in the red or the black anymore,” said Nathan Winch, a mechanic and Mesaba Airline Representative for the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association. “The Coalition’s proposal guarantees that labor is giving enough to make Mesaba profitable. We say a 6% profit margin is sufficient, and if management is going to liquidate over another point or two on the margin, there is nothing we can do.”
If Mesaba elects to throw out the labor contracts, the unions intend to strike, which would end service to cities that rely on Mesaba as their only airline transportation. The unions may strike when Mesaba stops adhering to the terms of their contracts. In the wake of Mesaba’s announcement that it intends to impose new terms on October 15, the unions strongly urge the traveling public to take steps to avoid travel on Northwest Airlink on and after that date.
“Going on strike is the last resort,” said Tim Evenson, President of the Association of Flight Attendants unit at Mesaba, “because we would rather provide the same exceptional service that Mesaba is known for day in and day out. But, we will not work for wages that qualify our members for food stamps. Mesaba should not be permitted to exploit the bankruptcy process to require the government to supplement our earnings. No citizen of this country should have to bear that burden, especially while our holding company harbors millions of dollars in profits earned by Mesaba in previous years.”
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SOURCE: Mesaba Airlines Labor Coalition
ALPA CONTACT: Kris Pierson, 612-839-0789
AMFA CONTACT: Nathan Winch, 612-203-8878
AFA CONTACT: Carla Rogat, 612-801-4141