November 24, 2010
Evergreen International Airlines Crewmembers to Vote on Strike Authorization; Pilots Disgruntled by Six Years of Negotiations
McMINNVILLE, OR—The Evergreen International Airlines (EIA) Master Executive Council (MEC) has announced that they are conducting a strike ballot of the membership to be prepared for all possible contingencies should negotiations fail. EIA crewmembers, who are represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), have been negotiating with their management for a new contract for over six years. Pilots are nearing their limit of frustration and dissatisfaction with management even as they continue to provide exemplary professional service that sustains the viability of the airline and ensures customer satisfaction.
Evergreen crewmembers overwhelmingly turned down a tentative agreement in August because it fell substantially short of their goals. The failed agreement was largely a renewal of the current collective bargaining agreement, which has been in place since 1999. The crewmembers concluded that the tentative agreement was not acceptable after more than 10 years without improvements in some areas of working conditions, six years without a pay raise, and no per diem increase since the late ’90s. After months of waiting to come back to the negotiating table since the crewmembers voted down a tentative agreement in August, the MEC is taking the necessary measures to secure a fair contract, including sending the ballot to authorize a strike. The strike ballot will open on December 1 and close January 7. If it passes, it would authorize the EIA MEC to declare a strike once the pilot group is given permission to do so by the National Mediation Board (NMB).
“We certainly want a contract, not a strike,” said Professional Flight Engineer William Fink, chairman of the Evergreen ALPA unit. “That has been our goal since day one more than six years ago—but the new agreement must provide our members with industry-standard wages, work rules, and benefits. We deserve no less. This strike authorization vote will give us the means to take all legal actions to attain the goal of a fair contract.”
ALPA can request a proffer of arbitration from the NMB at any time. If the NMB issues a proffer, either party can reject arbitration. In that event, a 30-day cooling-off period would commence, after which crewmembers could legally engage in the first-ever pilot strike at Evergreen.
Fink said, “By taking this step, we are prompting management to stop stalling and finalize a contract that satisfies the basic needs of its crewmembers. If management needs to see more visible proof of our resolve—in addition to the overwhelming rejection of the subpar tentative agreement—this vote will no doubt prove that.”
ALPA is the bargaining representative for the 228 pilots and flight engineers in service for EIA. EIA crewmembers operate a fleet of Boeing 747s and specialize in charter and contract freighter operations around the globe from their hub cities of New York (JFK) and Travis Air Force Base, Calif. Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilot union, representing nearly 53,000 pilots at 38 airlines in the United States and Canada. Visit the ALPA website at www.alpa.org.
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