Monday, November 01, 2010

Pilots at Air Wisconsin begin contract negotiations

by B. N. Sullivan

Contract negotiations have begun between the Air Wisconsin pilots' union and the management of Air Wisconsin Airlines Company (AWAC).  Air Wisconsin pilots are represented by the Air line pilots Association (ALPA).

According to ALPA:
After more than two years of meticulous planning that included the development of a comprehensive strategic plan and a multifaceted communications program, the Air Wisconsin pilots exchanged openers with management as outlined in the Railway Labor Act (RLA)—the federal statute that governs contract negotiations in the airline industry. The RLA sets the rules for collective bargaining, representation, and grievance processing in the airline and railroad industries. Section 6 is the provision of the RLA that defines how airline management and the union can start and continue collective bargaining to amend applicable working conditions.

“Our opener is very extensive and includes improvements to nearly every section of the contract,” said Capt. Mark Lockwood, chairman of the Air Wisconsin pilots’ Negotiating Committee. “We have surveyed the pilot group twice and spent countless hours speaking with our fellow pilots. The overwhelming sentiment that we have heard is that the pilots want more of Air Wisconsin’s earnings, not less.” As a result, the Master Executive Council recently launched the “MORE” campaign to kick off the start of negotiations.
“We are very optimistic about achieving a quality contract that compensates our pilots for the high level of productivity that has supported Air Wisconsin’s growth,” said Capt. Joe Ellis, chairman of the Air Wisconsin pilots’ chapter of ALPA.

ALPA notes that despite the recession and current economic climate, AWAC continues to make money, has recalled furloughed pilots, and has begun hiring new pilots.

“Air Wisconsin has long been the ‘go-to’ airline, the airline of choice, and the airline that set the bar for our sector of the industry,” said Capt. Ellis. “It’s no secret that even though our pilots provided deep concessions nearly eight years ago, through the subsequent mismanagement of our airline, Air Wisconsin’s reputation has plummeted. Our pilots have made a clear statement that they expect real change—change that will restore our company as a place where employees are proud to answer the question, ‘Who do you fly for?’”