Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Midwest Airlines pilots ask for federal mediation of contract talks

Midwest AirlinesThe pilots at Midwest Airlines have petitioned the National Mediation Board (NMB) for assistance with their labor contract negotiations. According to the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), which represents Midwest Airlines pilots, the decision to request NMB mediation came after the airline's management tried to pressure the pilots' union to agree to all concessions initially sought last summer before contract talks got underway.

Midwest pilots currently are working under a concessionary agreement reached in 2003. Their contract became amendable August 31, 2008. ALPA notes that the pilots began negotiating with management in October 2008, a month after the airline cut nearly 300 pilot jobs in a deal that outsourced much of Midwest's flying to Republic Airways.

In December of 2008, the pilots submitted what ALPA describes as "a comprehensive proposal addressing compensation, scheduling, retirement, and insurance." When face-to-face talks resumed in January, management failed to offer a counterproposal. Instead, says ALPA, "management again demanded concessions and advised the pilots that negotiations would not be productive unless they submitted a proposal providing those concessions."

Capt. Tony Freitas, incoming chairman of the Midwest Master Executive Council of ALPA, said, "While the pilots remain fully engaged in working to reach a fair, consensual agreement, Midwest management has refused to do the same. Instead, management continues to demand the same outrageous concessions that it did last July, despite several changes in the airline’s situation and operational plans."

Capt. Ken Krueger, chairman of the pilots’ Negotiating Committee, added, "We are committed to obtaining a new contract that offers some level of job security and maintains a decent quality of life for Midwest pilots. However, we have reached the point in our direct negotiations with management’s representatives where we believe that the assistance of a federal mediator is necessary to help us move this process forward."