Continental Pilots Win Scope Arbitration

January 4, 2011 - Late last week, arbitrator Richard Bloch notified the CAL MEC that he had ruled in favor of ALPA in its expedited scope arbitration held in early December. The arbitration resulted from ALPA’s group grievance addressing management’s post-merger decision to outsource flying using the CO designator code on 70-seat jets from Continental hubs. The Association saw this as a violation of the Continental collective bargaining agreement (CBA) and an attempt by management to leverage its position in negotiations in favor of outsourcing.

In addition to filing the grievance, hundreds of Continental pilots, joined by fellow ALPA pilots from United, Colgan, ExpressJet, AirTran, Delta, FedEx, and Mesa, as well as pilots from American, conducted informational picketing in November at Continental hubs in Newark and Houston, and in December at United headquarters in Chicago, in a display of unity to protest the company’s actions.

In his Dec. 30, 2010, decision, the arbitrator agreed with ALPA’s position, stating, “Placing the CO designator code on the UAX jet aircraft with a certification of fifty-one or greater seats to and from CLE, EWR, and IAH is a violation of Section 1 of the Continental/ALPA collective bargaining agreement. The company is ordered to cease and desist advertising and placing the CO code on such flights.”

“We are, of course, pleased with the arbitrator’s decision and the fact that the language and intent of the CBA that was negotiated by ALPA was affirmed,” said Capt. Jay Pierce, CAL MEC chairman. “We are additionally pleased that the system for resolving such disputes worked as intended and that our strategy for handling this issue was affirmed as well. No doubt there will be complex compliance issues following the arbitrator’s decision that we will be monitoring closely.”