February 25, 2008
Northwest Airlink Pinnacle Pilots Open Strike Operations Center
BLOOMINGTON, MN — After three years of negotiations, Pinnacle Airlines (PCL) pilots, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA), today announced the opening of a Strike Operations Center in Bloomington, where Pinnacle pilot volunteers can coordinate strike preparedness activities in their effort to achieve a fair contract.
“We want to send a clear message to Pinnacle management: Pinnacle pilots are serious about doing whatever it takes to negotiate a contract that recognizes the sacrifices the pilots have made to the financial success of this airlines,” said Capt. Scott Erickson, chairman of the ALPA unit at Pinnacle.
The strike center will provide a centralized location for Pinnacle pilots to coordinate picketing and other related activities, plan contingencies in preparation for a possible strike, and track all pilots’ schedules to locate and coordinate travel for any Pinnacle pilot stranded in the event a strike is called.
Capt. Erik Addy, chairman of the Pinnacle pilots’ Strike Preparedness Committee, which oversees all the functions of the strike center, said pilots are fully prepared to conduct a strike if management refuses to negotiate a reasonable agreement.
“My committee has been working diligently for more than a year to prepare this pilot group for any outcome,” said Capt. Addy. “Pinnacle pilots are unified and strongly committed to attaining our contract goals. We are ready to do whatever it takes to achieve a fair contract.”
Pinnacle pilots have not had a raise in pay for more than three years, while the hours they are away from home continue to increase. As a result, pilot morale is at an all-time low, and pilots are leaving en masse to work for airlines that value a pilot’s contribution to the bottom line and provide professional pilot wages.
“Our airline is prospering, yet management continues to demand a below-industry average contract from us,” said Capt. Erickson. First-year Pinnacle pilots earn less than $18,000 a year, while nearly half of our pilots earn less than $30,000 a year.
Capt. Erickson added, “Our pilots have expressed their frustration by giving nearly unanimous authorization for their union leaders to call a lawful withdrawal of services, if released to do so by the National Mediation Board, should contract talks fail to result in an agreement. While the pilots remain committed to exhausting every effort to reach a satisfactory contract – one that includes an increase in wages and benefits and greater job security – this strike center will allow us to be prepared if Pinnacle management fails to reverse its negotiating patterns. By stalling at the negotiating table, Pinnacle management is on the verge of doing irreparable damage to its relationship with a vital component of its operation – its pilots.”
The Pinnacle pilots began collective bargaining with management under Section 6 of the Railway Labor Act in February 2005, and the agreement their pilots currently work under became amendable in May 2005. Negotiations have been conducted with the assistance of the National Mediation Board since September 2006.
Based in Memphis, Pinnacle Airlines operates as Northwest Airlink and Delta Connection and flies more than 130 modern, sophisticated jet aircraft, including the newest addition to their fleet, the CRJ-900, which is operated under the Delta Connection livery.
Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilot union representing more than 61,000 cockpit crewmembers at 43 airlines in the U.S. and Canada. Visit the ALPA website at www.alpa.org.
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SOURCE: Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l
ALPA CONTACT: Scott Erickson, 651-226-3797 or Kimberly Seitz, 703-481-4463