February 15, 2008
Skyway Management Denies Pilots Severance
Package Given to All Other Employees
Decision to exclude pilots from receiving termination benefits is anti-union, discriminatory
Milwaukee, WI—The Skyway pilots union, a unit of the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l. (ALPA), is reporting to its pilots that Skyway management has refused to offer Skyway pilots severance packages. Skyway, dba Midwest Connect, announced in January that it will cease its flight operations in April, effectively terminating more than 190 pilot jobs.
“We are bitterly disappointed at management’s mean-spirited and vindictive refusal to give Skyway pilots the same severance pay package it has given to all other Skyway employees,” said Capt. Rendell Schmidt, chairman of the Skyway Master Executive Council (MEC). “As a result, pilots will not receive any severance pay, nor will they receive a COBRA cost-sharing package.”
In addition to excluding pilots from the severance pay package, management has offered very little of value that is not already required by law in exchange for work rule changes that well exceed the value of what they were offering the pilots.
“An already ugly situation at Skyway Airlines has just turned uglier. It is evident that Skyway management is punishing the pilots for having union representation and a collective bargaining contract,” said Capt. John Prater, ALPA president. “ALPA is exploring our legal options. Clearly, by its vindictive targeting of the pilots, Skyway management has behaved in a manner that is discriminatory, anti-union, and anti-ALPA.”
In public statements at the time of the shutdown announcement, Midwest Air Group management indicated that all employees losing their jobs would receive severance pay and other assistance. However, in its response to the MEC regarding the union’s proposal, management refused to extend to its pilots the same severance pay package that it has given all other Skyway employees.
During a February 13 meeting with management representatives, including CEO David Reeve, union leaders asked management to reconsider its position, pointing out that the company is not legally required to offer severance benefits to any employees—union or non-union. Indeed, the recently organized Skyway flight attendants will receive the severance benefits package denied to the pilots. Mr. Reeve replied that the pilots have had the benefit of a collective bargaining agreement for ten years, while the other employees have not.
Capt. Prater pledged ALPA’s continued assistance to Skyway pilots throughout this ordeal. “Through jobs and benefits conferences, ALPA will provide every possible means of assistance for them to move forward with their lives and careers. We will work to make sure that every Skyway pilot is back in the cockpit when Skyway shuts down.”
Capt. Schmidt added, “While we understand that Skyway pilots are outraged over management’s decision, we are confident that they will remain professional through this ordeal and continue to fly passengers to their destinations in a safe and timely manner.”
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. Visit the website: www.alpa.org.
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ALPA Contacts: Doug Baj, Barbara Gottshalk, 703/481-4440