Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Arbitrate This!

A few days ago the arbitrator on the Alaska Airlines pilot's contract announced the results of his arbitration. The results aren't pretty at all: 26% average pay cuts, with the heaviest paycuts for the most junior guys. In fact, a first-year FO is only making a few dollars more than me, flying a plane over twice as big. Here's what's amazing: the company has been making money. The arbitrator awarded them paycuts only a sliver away from the 30% the company requested on the prediction that high fuel costs and competition would eventually cause them to lose money. The only good news is that the pension system is untouched, and the no-strike clause is gone. It's going to be seriously bloody in 2007, if not in the intervening period.

This is somewhat related to my last post. You take two guys and strap them into a pressurized aluminum tube hurtling hundreds of miles per hour through the inhospitable outer reaches of the atmosphere; then expect them to pull out super-human feats to be able to deal with the most crippling of emergencies, even after 13 hours of duty when they're tired and hungry...and then tell them that they're paid too much. It makes my blood boil.

(Sorry this sounds so negative, Sylv. I may be a little bitter about this for a few days yet. Consider it prep for when my company asks for 30% paycuts from us.)