December 5, 2008
Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Expresses Concern Over Outsourcing of Midwest Airlines Jobs
MADISON, Wis. — In a strongly worded letter to Midwest Airlines Chairman and CEO Tim Hoeksema dated December 1, Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton joined a number of Wisconsin leaders and President-elect Barack Obama in voicing concern about the outsourcing of Midwest Airlines’ employees’ jobs.
“The pilots and flight attendants and mechanics and others who over the years made sacrifices to support Midwest’s viability...are those most likely to ensure continued public/customer confidence in the airline today,” she wrote. The letter closed with her assertion that a “long history of trust and generosity between employees and management and the state will collapse with [management’s] demand for concessions.”
When the company announced its decision to subcontract flying to Republic Airways in September, management said it would be willing to petition the FAA to permit Midwest to add the Embraer 170s to its operating certificate on the condition that the pilots acquiesce to significant economic demands. Management has maintained this position even as the two parties continue contract negotiations.
The Midwest pilots filed a grievance challenging the company’s decision to outsource their jobs as part of its deal with Republic Airways Holdings. A decision by the arbitrator is expected later this month. Meanwhile, nearly 300 of the 400 pilots employed by Midwest will lose or have lost their jobs as a result of this action by management.
The grievance filing is one part of the campaign the Midwest pilots have launched in their fight to protect their jobs. In addition to informational picketing and leafleting, rallies, and outreach to Midwest customers and the local Milwaukee community, Midwest pilots’ efforts include reaching out to federal, state, and local legislators to express their concerns about the outsourcing of their jobs.
Pilots wrote letters to their U.S. representatives and senators, and key congressional leaders. Members of the Midwest pilots’ union Legislative Affairs Committee also met with members of the Wisconsin congressional delegation, both in Washington, D.C., and in Wisconsin throughout September, as well as with state legislators and with Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton at her office in Madison.
The lieutenant governor expressed her support for the Wisconsin-based Midwest Airlines pilots and other employees during that meeting and reinforced her support in her letter to Mr. Hoeksema. “Certainly the deep public value of an airline grounded in Wisconsin and employing Wisconsin people contributed to the State of Wisconsin’s support for Midwest in 2001 with the ad valorem tax exemption for airlines that have hubs in Wisconsin,” she said. (A copy of the letter is attached.)
The 400 active and furloughed professional pilots at Midwest Airlines are represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA). Founded in 1931, ALPA represents 53,000 pilots at 37 airlines in the United States and Canada. Visit the ALPA website at http://www.alpa.org. For more information about the Midwest pilots’ fight to protect their jobs, visit the Midwest pilots’ website at www.DontOutsourceMidwest.com.
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ALPA CONTACT: Barbara Gottshalk, (703) 689-4100, Barbara.Gottshalk@alpa.org