Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Air Transat pilots vote to strike; Wasaya pilots have a TA; Evergreen pilots reject their TA

by B. N. Sullivan

ALPA logoLots of labor news from the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) this week:

Air Transat

Pilots at Montréal-based carrier Air Transat recently held a strike ballot, in which 97% of pilots voted in favor of a lawful strike, "should it become necessary to conclude a fair collective agreement" with the airline's management.  ALPA reports that 90% of pilots eligible to vote had participated in the balloting.

Contract negotiations began in January of this year.  ALPA says that "substantial issues remain open, particularly in the areas of job outsourcing, pilot fatigue mitigation, and compensation."  In June, a conciliation commissioner was appointed by Canada's Minister of Labour.

ALPA explains:
The conciliation time line establishes a series of hard deadlines for negotiators, including a 60-day conciliation period that will expire on September 10, 2010, unless the parties agree to extend the process. Under the Canada Labour Code, both the strike authorization vote and written notification to the company are required steps before any withdrawal of services can begin. At the end of conciliation, a mandatory 21-day waiting period will go into effect, which concludes at midnight on October 1, at which time Air Transat pilots will be in a legal position to strike.
“Our pilots are seeking a contract that recognizes their contribution to the success of the airline that they have helped to build,” said Captain Sylvain Aubin, chairman of the Air Transat unit of ALPA.   “This [strike] vote serves as notice to the company that our pilots are united and stand firm behind our goal of achieving a fair and equitable contract,” Captain Aubin added.

Wasaya Airways

Also in Canada, Wasaya Airways pilots have reached a tentative contract agreement (TA) with their management.  ALPA says the new two-year agreement provides pay increases, establishes a seniority, and implements the first sick bank for the pilots.

Wasaya pilots will vote on the TA in the coming weeks.  Should the tentative contract agreement be ratified, it would be the first for Wasaya pilots, who joined ALPA in January of 2008.

Evergreen International Airlines

Pilots and flight engineers at Oregon-based Evergreen International Airlines have rejected a tentative contract agreement, which was reached in April of this year.  ALPA reports that 92% of eligible Evergreen crew members participated in the ratification balloting, and 96% of those voted against accepting the TA.

From an ALPA press statement:
ALPA and management negotiated for two-and-a-half years. Prior to the Evergreen crewmembers joining ALPA in 2007, negotiations dragged on for more than three years between the crewmembers’ independent union, The Aviators Group, and management. Mediated talks began in 2005 under the supervision of the National Mediation Board (NMB). The tentative agreement was reached in April 2010.

The tentative 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 contract is not acceptable after more than 10 years of no improvements in pay or working conditions.
William Fink, MEC chairman of the Evergreen pilot group, said that the crew members "could not get past the fact that they are working under 1999 wages and works rules, and would have continued to do so for another two years" under the terms of the TA.

“We are aware that the holding company is struggling to meet substantial debt obligations, but are convinced that the airline can afford reasonable improvements in wages and working conditions for its employees,” said Fink.

The NMB, which still has jurisdiction over the negotiations between Evergreen and its crew members, will determine the next step in resolving this case.

RELATED: Evergreen Airlines pilots frustrated after five years of contract talks - Sep 15, 2009