November 29, 2006
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Mesa Air Group Pilots Ask Federal Court to Force Management Compliance with Arbitration Award
PHOENIX, AZ -- Pilots at Phoenix-based Mesa Air Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: MESA), filed a federal lawsuit against the company late yesterday which seeks court enforcement of a significant scheduling arbitration award to compel Mesa management to follow the terms of the pilots’ collective bargaining agreement. The pilots, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA) prevailed in the arbitration, but nearly six months after the arbitrator issued the decision, management continues to refuse to comply with the ruling because it would undoubtedly cost them money.
Like pilots throughout the airline industry, Mesa’s 1,800 pilots bid for monthly schedules based on their relative seniority. The company administers the bidding process and then publishes the results to pilots. In a decision which became final on June 13, 2006, nationally known labor arbitrator Robert O. Harris of Washington, DC, ruled that Mesa violated the pilots’ collective bargaining agreement by engaging in a widespread practice of altering awarded flight schedules, re-assigning flight duties, rescheduling awarded flights, and transferring flight duties among pilots.
Captain James Ackerman, chairman of ALPA’s Mesa pilot unit said, “Competent pilot scheduling is key to our pilots’ quality of life. It dictates how long you’re away from home, how much you’re paid, and how productive you are while on duty.”
With constant scheduling changes, many of which
are last minute, Mesa pilots are frequently on duty for long periods of time
with erratic rest schedules, which not only make family life difficult, but also
promote job dissatisfaction and fatigue.
“It plays havoc with our lives,” said the pilots’ Scheduling Committee chairman Captain Darrell Cox. “The irony is that our union foreshadowed a shortage of pilots long ago, and many of these problems could have been mitigated if management had just hired appropriately according to the operation’s needs.”
While the pilots recognize that weather, aircraft mechanical problems, and other issues cause schedule disruptions, the pilots’ contract allows for schedule adjustments by the company in such situations. But the union leadership insists management has systematically abused the contract with respect to schedule changes – and that the arbitrator’s ruling affirms this. After nearly six months of requesting that management modify its practices and abide by the arbitrator’s decision, union leaders say Mesa pilots are frustrated about their management’s lack of compliance.
ALPA president Captain Duane E. Woerth vowed to put the weight of the largest pilots union in the world behind the effort to preserve Mesa pilots’ quality of life and stop management from trampling over pilots’ rights. “We expect airline managements to abide by the terms of the collective bargaining agreements they sign,” Woerth said. “ALPA will take all reasonable and lawful steps to protect the contractual rights of our members,” he added.
Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilot union, representing 61,000 pilots at 40 airlines in the United States and Canada, including 1,840 pilots who fly for Mesa Air Group. Mesa Air Group’s 187 aircraft perform more than 1,200 daily departures in 46 states, the District of Columbia, Canada, the Bahamas and Mexico. Visit the ALPA website at www.alpa.org.
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ALPA Contacts: Anya Piazza, (703) 481-4440
Lydia Jakub, (602) 306-1208