January 30, 2008
Continental Pilots’ Union Elects New Chairman
HOUSTON, TEXAS—At yesterday’s meeting of the Continental pilots’ Master Executive Council, the union leadership elected Capt. Jay Pierce as its new chairman in a special election. Capt. Pierce, a Houston-based B-737 pilot with 18 years at Continental Airlines, is a long time union activist with the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), the union that represents the Continental pilots. He most recently served as the local Negotiating Committee Chairman and on ALPA’s national Collective Bargaining Committee.
Election of the new chairman signals a change for the union. “We have many important issues facing us: active negotiations for a new contract that will get us out from under $200M plus in annual concessions and givebacks, the possibility of a merger, and an uncertain economy that threatens our airline. In the past, there has been a hesitancy to push management for what we need; for what we have earned,” said Capt. Pierce. “We’re not going to sit back and wait. We’re rolling up our sleeves and are going to do what it takes to make sure we’re actively involved with management to protect our interests, whether the task is a new contract or a merger scenario. We’re ready to work with management cooperatively and we’re also prepared to stand firm as needed—either way, the Continental pilots will play a determining role in the future of our airline.”
The union and Continental management are currently in discussions on the non-economic sections of the pilots’ contract. To date, these talks have progressed smoothly and have resulted in tentative agreements on seven out of fourteen sections initially scheduled for this round of bargaining. Negotiations on the remaining non-economic sections continue with two scheduled sessions each in February and March, after which the union is slated to present its opening position on the contract’s economic sections.
Capt. Pierce commented on the negotiation process, stating, “We’ve had significant success throughout our bargaining efforts to date, from the day that we worked with our management to begin talks early to the current stage we’re in now. This is especially important in the context of our industry, where other airline managements are deliberately blocking labor’s efforts to move forward. We’ve worked hard to get where we are, and we see no reason that we shouldn’t see continued progress.”
“We expect to see similar success with any possible merger scenario,” continued Capt. Pierce. “With the activation of our SMART center (Strategic Merger and Acquisition Response Team), we’re preparing ourselves to react quickly in the event our company becomes involved in merger activity. We’ve already presented management with essential requirements of any merger deal. We aren’t necessarily against a merger, but we would prefer, like our management, to operate as a stand-alone airline. We’ll act resoundingly and with all necessary action to protect our interests.”
The Continental pilots’ contract becomes amendable on December 31, 2008. They have been operating under a concessionary contract signed in April 2005, under which the pilots gave up over $200M annually in pay and benefits. Once bargaining on the new contract is completed and tentative agreements have been reached on all sections, the contract will be presented first to union leadership and then the pilots themselves for member ratification.
Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilot union representing more than 60,000 pilots at 43 airlines in the U.S. and Canada.
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Amy Flanagan, Air Line Pilots Association, 281-987-3636 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Capt. Mark Adams, Air Line Pilots Association, 281-987-3636 or email@example.com