Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Evergreen Airlines pilots frustrated after five years of contract talks

Evergreen International B747The pilots and flight engineers at Evergreen International Airlines are working under rules and pay based on a contract arrived at a decade ago. Frustrated by talks that have dragged on for five years, the pilots' union is questioning Evergreen management's commitment to contract negotiations. They recently released the following statement to the press regarding their situation:
Evergreen International Airlines (EIA) crewmembers, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA) are seeing red over management’s concessionary demands in the current contract talks. Evergreen crewmembers and management have met off and on over the past five years with little progress while the crewmembers continue working under 1999 wages and contract rules. The two sides are still chasms apart on all economic areas, even though Evergreen crewmembers lag the industry in pay as much as 32-40 percent depending on their rank compared with carriers doing similar work.

Evergreen crewmembers have supported the United States armed forces operating thousands of missions worldwide for the Air Mobility Command since 1975. Crewmembers are also counted on for their professionalism and experience when it comes to global humanitarian relief missions and DOD support through the Civilian Reserve Air Fleet. Evergreen crewmembers are the sole highly trained operators of Boeing’s LCF fleet of notably modified 747 freighters used to transport large segments of the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner from factories to the assembly plant in Everett, Washington.

“Evergreen crewmembers are loyal, dedicated employees who are committed to our airline’s successful future,” said William Fink, chairman of the Evergreen ALPA unit and EIA professional flight engineer. “We see the wonderful contributions our company’s president has made throughout the years to international humanitarian and relief projects as well as to aviation history and the community of McMinnville, Oregon through the Evergreen Aviation & Space museum with its Imax Theater and planned indoor water park and resort lodge. We only wish that a modicum of that attention could be focused on our pilots’ futures to conclude contract negotiations without further delay.”

Evergreen crewmembers are long overdue for a fair and equitable new collective bargaining agreement that reflects their considerable contributions to the cargo carrier’s success. Pilots have been in mediated talks under the supervision of the National Mediation Board since the end of 2005. Pilots are asking for cost-of-living pay increases which are approximately equal to the sum of consumer price index increases since 1999. They are well below industry standards on pay, protections and provisions for flying into hostile environments, and vacation time.

“We know our founder and majority stockholder understands the demands of our profession and respects the work that our crewmembers do to keep operations on schedule under sometimes very challenging conditions,” said Fink. “It’s time for pilots to see visible evidence of that understanding to stem mounting crewmember frustration – because a highly dissatisfied crew force benefits no one. Just as management must come to terms with its financiers and suppliers, it is equally critical to the success of the operation that management reaches a reasonable accord with its crewmembers."

ALPA is the bargaining representative for the 221 pilots and flight engineers in the service of EIA, including 10 currently on furlough, since 2008. Founded in 1931, ALPA represents nearly 53,500 pilots at 36 airlines in the United States and Canada.
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