January 8, 2008
ALPA Calls Pinnacle Management Lawsuit “Height
Timing of Suit a “Coincidence?”
WASHINGTON—Capt. John Prater, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA), issued the following statement upon learning that Pinnacle Airlines management had filed a lawsuit today falsely accusing the union of bad-faith bargaining during three-year-old contract talks.
“I’m astounded that Pinnacle management has the gall to accuse ALPA of bad-faith bargaining when management, not ALPA, has been dragging out negotiations for the last 18 months. It’s the height of cynicism.
“I sent a letter to the National Mediation Board just yesterday requesting that it issue a proffer of arbitration to the airline and the union. I do not believe the suit’s timing is a coincidence.
“I am equally outraged that Pinnacle, in a news release dated today, charged that ALPA negotiators had not ‘told the truth’ to pilot members regarding offers Pinnacle had made. Pilots have been fully informed on all details of negotiations throughout the process.
“How dare this management accuse us of lying to our pilots? No pilot group is more unified, well led, and serious about negotiations than our Pinnacle pilots.
“Even though many contract issues have been resolved, this management refuses to make any serious improvements in pilots’ job security protection, pay rates, and work rules that would appreciably improve pilots’ quality of life.”
Pinnacle Airlines and its parent company, Pinnacle Airlines Corp., continue to be very profitable, posting a stronger profit margin than other regional carriers—more than 9.6 percent over the last three calendar years. Negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement began in January 2005, with no contract achieved after 18 months. Pinnacle management made its “best and last offer” in December 2005 and has stalled the process ever since by failing to bargain seriously. Mediation began in September 2006, but it has not been successful, Prater said, and so he requested arbitration to get the process moving.
“Filing this baseless lawsuit can only be a delaying tactic in retaliation for our request to the NMB,” said Capt. Scott Erickson, chairman of the Pinnacle pilots’ union. “It’s the latest in a long line of attempts to put off the inevitable and to misrepresent where the real blame lies—with Pinnacle management—for the failure to achieve a fair contract after three very difficult years.”
Per the terms of Section 6 of the Railway Labor Act, which governs airline employee labor negotiations, the NMB can extend to the parties a proffer to arbitrate any remaining issues. If either party declines the proffer, the parties are released from mediation, and a 30-day cooling-off period begins. At its conclusion, either party can engage in self-help, which could take the form of a strike by employees.
ALPA, the world’s largest pilots union, represents more than 60,000 pilots at 42 airlines in the United States and Canada, including more than 1,200 pilots at Pinnacle. Visit the ALPA website at www.alpa.org.
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ALPA CONTACT: Pete Janhunen, (703) 481-4455, firstname.lastname@example.org