May 1, 2006
Possibility of Strike
Looming, Northwest Airlink Pilots Open Strike Center
Mesaba ALPA pilots’ Strike Preparedness Committee Ready
MINNEAPOLIS -- With the possibility of a strike approaching as soon as mid-May, the Mesaba Airline pilots are opening the doors of their “Strike Central” to the media for a few hours tomorrow.
What: Mesaba-ALPA Strike Center Open House
When: Tuesday, May 2, 2006
Time: 10:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. CT
7900 International Drive - Suite 988
(1 block West of 34th Ave South on American Blvd.)
Mesaba pilots, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, International, have been trying to reach a consensual agreement on contract concessions to address management’s stated need for relief since Mesaba Airlines filed for bankruptcy in October 2005. The company filed an 1113 (c) motion in federal bankruptcy court against the pilots, flight attendants and mechanics unions in January 2006 seeking to impose drastic pay cuts. The court decision in response to that motion was originally due on February, 27, 2006. That date was extended to March 25, 2006 and was recently extended again to May 11, 2006 when the two sides agreed to mediate the talks with the assistance of two neutral mediators.
“While ALPA and our Mesaba Labor Coalition member unions of AFA and AMFA all remain hopeful that we can come to terms with management on new contracts that will preserve a reasonable standard of living for employees and secure our airline’s future, there are no guarantees,” said Captain Tom Wychor, chairman of the ALPA unit at Mesaba. Pilots and other employees only have so much that they can give and still provide for our families.”
Starting salaries for Mesaba pilots, who operate both jet and turboprop aircraft, is just $21,000 per year. An average Mesaba pilot makes approximately $45,000. Management’s term sheet slashes wages and benefits to the lowest levels in the industry. A new hire pilot would gross just $13,100 after paying 50 percent premiums for family health care. More senior pilots would see their pay reduced by up to 66 percent.
If pilots are not successful in reaching consensual agreement with Mesaba management, and the company is allowed by the bankruptcy court and does impose new terms, pilot leaders have vowed to strike. Line pilots gave their elected leaders this authority by an overwhelming 98 percent vote earlier in the year.
The pilots’ main strike center in Bloomington near the airport is the hub of its SPC activities. Pilot volunteers have spent countless hours planning contingencies and attending to details in preparation for a possible strike. Line pilots also man the phone lines and e-mail messages to answer pilots’ strike related questions.
“Our Strike Preparedness Committee has been up and running for some time,” said Captain Michael Dockman, Mesaba ALPA SPC Chairman. “The Central Strike Center has state of the art software to track all pilots’ schedules so that we can locate and take care of any Mesaba pilot any day, any time, a strike is called. This is a huge endeavor that we all take very seriously, as our careers, our families and our futures are at stake.”
Mesaba Airlines operates as a Northwest Airlink partner under a service agreement with Northwest Airlines. Mesaba currently flies over 460 flights into Minneapolis, Detroit and Memphis to 112 cities throughout the United States and Canada. Several airports throughout Northern Minnesota and Northern Michigan will be completely without service if the Mesaba pilots were forced to strike.
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.
# # #
SOURCE: Air Line Pilots
ALPA CONTACT: Jonathan Marut (952) 853-9582 or Anya Piazza (703) 626-7926