April 11, 2006
Mesaba Labor Coalition to Informational Picket in 5 Minnesota Towns
Looming Strike Could Ground All Air Service
MINNEAPOLIS -- Mesaba pilots, flight attendants and mechanics will be conducting informational picketing in towns throughout Minnesota this Thursday, April 13 and Friday, April 14 to protest management’s plan to obtain excessive and unnecessary pay cuts through the bankruptcy court. A decision by the court on whether Mesaba Airlines has the right to impose its terms on the labor groups is scheduled for Tuesday April 25, 2006.
Management is demanding 19.4% in pay and benefit concessions for the next six years. The average salaries for flight attendants, pilots and mechanics currently stand at: $21,000, $45,000 and $32,000 respectively. These cuts, in addition to a 66% increase in health care premiums, will make these employees the lowest paid in the industry. Many Mesaba employees will be eligible for federal aid. At the new proposed rates, a first-year pilot with family health insurance will gross less than $11,000 a year. A first-year flight attendant with employee only insurance will gross $11,000 a year under the proposed concessions. Unless management is able to reach a consensual agreement with its unions that includes a fair wage, the unions assert that Mesaba will not be able to stay in business.
When: Thursday, April 13, 2006
Where: Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport
10:00am to 11:30am CT
3:45pm to 5:00pm CT
When: Friday April 14, 2006
Where: International Falls Airport
5:00am to 6:00am CT
Bemidji Regional Airport
9:55am to 11:00am CT
St. Cloud Regional Airport
4:30pm to 5:45pm CT
“To say that we are frustrated is an understatement,” said flight attendant Tim Evenson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants unit at Mesaba. “Mesaba knows that our wages are in line with the rest of the industry. Management is trying to use the bankruptcy process to push our wages far below those of all other carriers, which is not appropriate under the bankruptcy code.”
"The only viable path out of bankruptcy for Mesaba Airlines is a consensual agreement with each of its unions," said Captain Tom Wychor, chairman of the Mesaba unit of ALPA. "Management’s refusal to acknowledge the impact of the proposed cuts on their employees can only lead to liquidation of the airline--either through a pilot strike or through a mass exodus of highly experienced employees."
“These desired cuts will place all three labor groups far below the industry average. A strike at Mesaba would ground almost all commercial air service to Northern Minnesota,” said Kevin Wildermuth, AMFA negotiations committee chairman.
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 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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RELATED STORY: Mesaba bills ex-pilots for training costs, April 18, 2006, StarTribune.com
SOURCE: Mesaba Airlines Labor Coalition
ALPA CONTACT: Chris Collins, 313-574-2757
AMFA CONTACT: Kevin Wildermuth, 404-808-8120
AFA CONTACT: Jason Stein, 612-812-1374