The pilots at my airline are working under a contract that was signed in September 2001 and becomes amendable this coming September. Under the Railway Labor Act, which governs labor relations at unionized airlines, either party can request that an opening to contract negotiations six months before the amendable date. As expected, our management delivered that letter to the union this week.
The company decided to use the letter as an opening salvo in the PR war by posting it to the employee website. Not content to simply comply with the law by requesting negotiations, the letter attempts to frame negotiations in the company's favor. More or less, they're claiming that they gave away the shop with the last contract, plus everyone else's labor costs have decreased, therefore in keeping with their "compensation philosophy," pilot costs must decrease. This was backed up by graph after graph comparing our payrates to the likes of Mesa and Chautauqua.
A word to management: The airline is doing well. Do you really think we're going to bend our expectations to suit your "compensation philosophy" so the shareholders can pocket a few more cents per share while our first officers go on food stamps? Get freaking real. Our pilot group is dead set against any concessionary contract, and compared to five years ago our leadership is more experienced, our communications improved, and our unity impressive. You do not get to set the framework for these negotiations, clumsy propaganda attempts notwithstanding.
This is the first time I've written about our negotiations, and it will probably be the last time until we've signed the (non-concessionary!) contract. It's a subject that's typically kept fairly quiet from the public until the union decides to make their case. When they do, my union speaks for me. If management is reading this blog, they don't need to hear my take - once again, my union leadership speaks for me. Once the contract is signed - perhaps some time from now - I'll write freely about it.
For what it's worth, I recently began volunteering for our union's communications committee. I'm tired of seeing this profession dragged down into the mud. It's worth fighting for.