Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Aloha Airlines pilots ask U.S. Bankruptcy Court to enforce their contract terms

ALPA logoThe Aloha Airlines pilots have asked a U.S. Bankruptcy Court for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction that would make the sale of Aloha's cargo operations contingent on abiding by the contract between Aloha Airlines and its pilots' union. Aloha Airlines ceased passenger operations on March 31, 2008. The sale of the airline's cargo operation is scheduled to take place later this week.

Aloha Airlines pilots, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), are asking the court to enforce contract provisions covering successorship and sales of Aloha's assets and operations, according to a news release issued by ALPA. The union asserts that Aloha management has repudiated the pilots' collective bargaining agreement during the past few weeks and has triggered a “major dispute” under the Railway Labor Act, which governs airline contract negotiations. ALPA alleges that the company "continues to ignore the pilots’ collective bargaining agreement by terminating pilots out of seniority order, recalling pilots out of seniority order, failing to respect job security provisions that require a prospective purchaser to employ the current pilots in seniority order, terminating the pilots’ health plan, and failing to provide furlough pay and benefits, among other actions."
“Our contract specifically outlines the steps that must be taken to protect pilot jobs,” said Capt. John Prater, ALPA President. “Aloha management signed this agreement with the pilots and ALPA is prepared to do whatever is necessary to ensure that Aloha management adheres to the contract and that our pilots’ jobs are preserved.”
ALPA claims that the Aloha management rebuffed the union's efforts to negotiate a smooth transition before, during, and after the sale of the cargo operations.
“Aloha’s flagrant disregard of our contract is outrageous,” said Capt. David Bird, chairman of the Aloha arm of ALPA. “Aloha’s actions not only affect our pilots’ job security, but jeopardizes the future of Hawaii’s cargo flying. We just want Aloha to abide by the contract it signed.”
The Aloha pilots are scheduled to meet today, April 23, 2008, "to discuss and conduct a strike authorization vote, the first step in calling a strike." ALPA warns that a strike may occur at any time following an affirmative strike vote.

ALPA has requested a hearing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, April 24 to address the temporary restraining order.

UPDATE April 24, 2008: In their meeting last evening, the Aloha Airlines pilots "voted overwhelmingly" to authorize a strike of the carrier's cargo operations, according to the Honolulu Advertiser. The news article also mentioned that "about 150 or half of Aloha's pilots participated in the three-hour meeting and that "some of the membership have been forced to leave the state for employment while others could not get to Honolulu for the meeting."