Trans States Pilots Protest Corporate Greed over Family Need

July 26, 2009 - Trans States pilots were joined by family members and Air Tran and United pilots during an informational picketing event Sunday at Washington Dulles International Airport. The joint picketing/family awareness activity was designed to protest corporate greed over family need and TSA management’s refusal to earnestly participate in the negotiations process to reach a deal on their contract. Pilots and their families also visited the Smithsonian Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center after the picketing event.

ALPA’s littlest picketer, J.J. Ruszin, carried a picket sign that said “Trans States Pilots: Overworked and Underpaid” as he walked the line with his father TSA MEC Chairman Jason Ruszin, while six-day old sister Jalyn and mom Heather watched from the sidelines.

Direct negotiations between TSA pilots and management began in February 2006 and mediated negotiations, overseen by the National Mediation Board, began in February 2007, yet all the major sections of the contract, including compensation, remain open. This arduous process has negatively affected TSA pilots. Many are leaving the airlines AND the industry.

TSA management has continued to engage in regressive bargaining, which has created an even larger obstacle to reaching a successful conclusion to these negotiations. Management has only made backward movements from the current contract to health insurance in the entire 3-plus years of negotiations. They have not proposed any changes to the pilots’ measly 1% 401K match, and fail to address job security concerns.

TSA pilots have endured a substandard contract for almost nine years, with pay 7% to 23% below that of other pilots at airlines of comparable size providing comparable service. This substandard pay is particularly insulting because Trans States is among the most profitable airlines and is the fifth largest privately held in the regional industry.

While equal pay for equal work is a top contract goal, another contentious section of the contract is job security and scope protections. TSA pilots learned a hard lesson in trust when Trans States Holdings, parent company of Trans States Airlines, abandoned any pretense of loyalty to its Trans States employees by creating an alter-ego airline called GoJet in 2005. The creation of this airline became a direct threat to the job security of TSA pilots.

TSA pilots are seeking a contract that, at the very least, is consistent with industry average pay, benefits, work rules and job security. The pilots’ Negotiating Committee has put in a good faith effort to meet TSA management half way on many contract issues, yet the major sections of the contract remain unresolved.

In response to TSA’s delay tactics, TSA pilots are moving forward with a strategic initiative designed to strengthen their preparedness in the event the two parties cannot come to an agreement.

A similar joint picketing/family awareness event is planned for August 8 in St. Louis. Details will be made available as they are finalized.