Hundreds Rally for Alaska Contract

January 23, 2008 - More than 700 Alaska Airlines pilots and family members packed a SeaTac hotel last weekend to show support for their Negotiating Committee and to send management a message that any new contract must include a solid raise, protect retirement, and provide job security and quality health benefits.

“If there was any doubt that this contract is of vital importance to each and every one of us, just look around today,” said the MEC chairman, Capt. Tom Crank as he surveyed the crowd.

Alaska’s pilots have been in direct negotiations with management for slightly more than one year. Still unresolved are such issues as pay, retirement, health benefits, and scope provisions.

And it’s not just Alaska pilots fighting for a new contract, ALPA's president, Capt. John Prater, said, it’s all of ALPA. “All of ALPA is behind the Alaska pilots, and their families,” he said.

“We have reached agreements on two-thirds of your contract,” said the Negotiating Committee chair, First Officer Paul Stuart. “But right now, we are negotiating sections with direct financial impact, and while I’d like to report favorably on the progress, I cannot. Management still has made no indication that it is willing to provide increases on sections of the contract that affect your pocketbook.”

While management has not shown a willingness to make needed improvements, Alaska’s pilots are committed to seeing the process through until their objectives are met, said Phil Comstock of the Wilson Polling Center, who spoke and presented data collected in a poll of Alaska pilots earlier in January.

Three-fourths of Alaska’s pilots say that they want their negotiators to negotiate as long as it takes to achieve their goals and that they are preparing themselves financially for the possibility of self-help. The pilots’ willingness to engage in a lawful strike and their support for the MEC and Negotiating Committee also show that the pilots mean business, Comstock added.