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Airline Division News, Week Ending, August 6, 2016

Union meets with UAL, Federal Mediator

The UAL Negotiating Committee met the week of July 25th – 29th, 2016 in Chicago. The week started out with CEO Oscar Munoz talking to the Union Committee. Munoz gave his vision for the future of the Company, including how the group fits in to that strategy going forward. He answered several questions regarding his involvement in facilitating the process of talks that will lead to an industry leading contract.

As a result of the nature of the talks, the NMB has instructed the parties to avoid discussing any details of the proposal. Board member Linda Puchala sent Mediator Gerry McGuckin an email which stated in part:

 “The parties have reached a critical stage in the mediation process that entails the discussion of all remaining sections of the contract.  This stage of mediation is characterized by the discussion and exchange of comprehensive proposals.”

Further she stated:

“As we enter this stage of mediation the NMB Chairman and the NMB Mediators assigned to this case have asked the parties to refrain from public disclosure of the details of these comprehensive proposals.”

Commonly referred to as a “formal gag order” from the NMB, this order preventing the committee members and all parties involved from speaking about the terms discussed during each session will stay in place until the parties reach a tentative agreement.  

Allegiant Air Pilots Ratify First Contract

After more than three years of bargaining, Allegiant Air pilots - represented by Teamsters Local 1224 - ratified their first union contract with the airline on Thursday. With substantial improvements in compensation, benefits, and scheduling, the contract is a major victory for the pilots who have been working tirelessly to raise standards at the low-cost carrier. Pilots will immediately receive up to 31 percent pay increases, high quality health insurance and greater job security.

“Together, we’ve achieved something that few in our industry thought was possible,” said Allegiant Air Captain and Executive Council Chairman Cameron Graff. “But we knew that by sticking together, we could win a contract that raises standards for our industry and gives our families the stability we need. This is a turning point for Allegiant pilots and our company, and we are looking forward to working with management to make our airline the best it can be for our passengers.”

This union agreement gives pilots – for the first time – the full job protections of a contract, a critical component to a safe working environment and airline. This will include full participation in critical FAA safety programs.

Other contract highlights include immediate raises for all pilots, a 150 percent increase in the company’s 401(k) matching contribution, up to four weeks of paid vacation, an improved scheduling system and the ability for pilots to fund their union and defend their contract through a dispute resolution process. More than 86% of Allegiant’s voting pilots voted to ratify the contract online through anonymous ballots between mid-July and July 28.

“Pilots of our union, Teamsters Local 1224, stood with us through every step of this tough negotiation. Local 1224 is a great home base for not only Allegiant pilots, but for pilots from different airlines who are fighting for fair contracts that prioritize safety and recognize our work,” said Captain Scott Whitman.  “We hope this agreement will be the first of many for our industry that will raise standards so we can attract the pilots we need to address our pilot shortage.”

Teamsters Local 1224 President Daniel C. Wells said, “It is an honor to raise the standards in our industry along with such a committed group of pilots who have exhibited remarkable integrity and leadership through every day of this contentious process. Congratulations to the Allegiant Air pilots. We are proud you are Teamsters and to have you in the Local 1224 family. I would like to also thank and congratulate every member of the team tirelessly working at our local, the Airline Division Director David Bourne, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters General Executive Board, and particularly President Jim Hoffa.”

“This was a victory for the working people of this country, and the Teamsters. The General Executive Board and President Jim Hoffa are proud to have supported the efforts of the pilots in achieving their agreement,” said Airline Division Director David Bourne. 

Picketing Kalitta Pilots joined by fellow Local 1224 pilots

Pilots from Kalitta Air, a DHL contractor, are protesting in Fort Lauderdale today to tell Kalitta executives and DHL that they are united and ready to strike. The pilots are joined in solidarity by pilots from other North American DHL contractors – Atlas Air, Southern Air, Polar Air and ABX Air.

Holding signs reading “Pilots and Families Deserve a Fair Deal from DHL” and “Kalitta Air Pilots Ready to Strike,” the group marched outside the location of a Kalitta bargaining meeting. The meeting was a short distance from the headquarters of DHL’s U.S. operation – DHL Express – in Plantation, Florida.

Recently, over 2,000 pilots from Kalitta, Atlas, Southern, Polar and ABX voted with 99 percent support to strike should it be necessary. A cargo pilot strike would cripple DHL’s global operation as these carriers account for approximately 70 percent of DHL’s total global flying.

“Kalitta pilots have had enough of the company’s refusal to work with us to come to an industry-standard contract agreement that gives our families the stability we need,” said Scott Nelson, a Kalitta Air pilot.  “Kalitta’s performance has been stellar and DHL is bringing in record profits.  The pilots who keep their operations running deserve to be treated fairly.”

For over five years, Kalitta Air has refused to negotiate fairly with its pilots, and as a result, the pilots are working with a substandard, outdated contract and are forced to struggle with pay and benefits that fall below cargo industry standards with little or no job security. The company’s delay to negotiate has backfired, pushing many pilots to leave the airline for more stable jobs at passenger carriers with market-standard contracts and working conditions. In May, Kalitta Air walked away from the bargaining table without responding to the pilots’ proposal, prompting the pilots to inform the federal mediators that negotiations had reached an impasse. At a time when a pilot shortage is becoming an industry-wide concern, the airline’s ability to keep up with the demands of DHL and other customers could be at risk. 

DHL reported €59.2 billion ($66.7 billion US dollars) in increased consolidated revenue this past year, with the express division – which is based in Plantation, FL and includes the operations of Kalitta Air, Atlas Air, Polar Air, Southern Air and ABX Air – being its strongest and most profitable division.

Pilots from the five carriers have been raising concerns about how DHL and the American cargo carriers it contracts with are driving down standards throughout the industry. In addition to Kalitta, many of the DHL contractors are refusing to negotiate fairly with their pilots and are trying to force them into substandard contracts that lack basic job security and would have a devastating impact by suppressing wages and lowering quality of life.

“Every day, pilots who fly for DHL deliver the things that keep our world running like critical medical equipment, military supplies and packages from mom,” said Captain Bobby Boyd from Atlas Air who was protesting. “We are standing together and ready to strike because it doesn’t make sense that a foreign company and its contractors are leading a global race to the bottom that is hurting everyone in both the cargo industry and the logistics industry.”

A comparison study conducted by the pilots’ union, Teamsters Local 1224, shows that many of the pilots in DHL’s network are paid considerably less and work much longer hours than pilots who fly for UPS or FedEx. Pilots at Atlas, Polar and Southern reported being forced to fly long hours with minimal rest time in between flights, leading to dangerous fatigue.


Airline Industry News

Governmental and Regulatory

The Federal Aviation Administration is planning to hire an additional 1,400 air traffic controllers across the US. The one-week application window will open Monday.


Airlines, Industry and Labor

After yesterday's unveiling of Amazon's new "Prime Air" livery for the 767 freighters it is leasing from Atlas Air and Air Transport Services Group (ATSG), the Seattle area is preparing for the aircraft's expected fly-by in the city's annual Seafair celebration this weekend, including an air show by the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels aerobatics team.

Tuskegee Airmen Inc. recognized honorary member Southwest Chairman Emeritus Herb Kelleher with its signature red jacket at the organization's national convention recently. "Herb's trailblazing efforts as the co-founder of Southwest Airlines and the leadership he has shown, especially in the area of diversity and inclusion, are noteworthy," said retired Brig. Gen. Leon Johnson, TAI's president. 

American Airlines plans to give an average pay raise of 22% to its ground workers and mechanics starting in November. The pay raise was part of negotiations between the carrier and the TWU-IAM Association union.

The pending merger between Alaska Airlines and Virgin America is "pro-competitive," says Alaska Airlines spokesman Joseph Sprague. "We could not be more excited about what the future holds for our company from a corporate business travel standpoint," said Sprague.

Boeing could cease production of its iconic 747 aircraft, which took its first flight in 1969. "It is reasonably possible that we could decide to end production of the 747," the aircraft manufacturer said in a quarterly earnings filing.