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Airline Labor Showdowns Unlikely Anytime Soon

Rez O. Lewshun

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  • October 2, 2009, 12:39 PM ET
Airline Labor Showdowns Unlikely Anytime Soon


Both American and United airlines have major labor negotiations underway, but travelers don’t need to worry about any major flight-disrupting showdowns anytime soon. The National Mediation Board isn’t going to let that happen.
That’s the view of two long-time airline industry labor experts, one on each side of the bargaining table. At a recent American Bar Association aviation conference, Russ Bailey, senior attorney at the Air Line Pilots Association, and Jerry Glass, a longtime negotiator for airline management, both said the Mediation Board is unlikely to set up any major labor confrontations while the economy is weak.


“The reality is our economy is in such a fragile state that the notion of the Mediation Board rushing through and creating the potential to put 70,000 or 80,000 people out of work – I don’t see it,” said Mr. Glass.
Airline industry labor disputes almost always fall to federal mediators to try to resolve once the two sides reach an impasse. Strikes or lockouts can happen only after the Mediation Board releases both parties into a 30-day cooling off period. Even then strikes can be averted by presidential intervention.


By all accounts, several of the major unions, including pilots, at both AMR Corp.’s American and UAL Corp.’s United are far apart in negotiations. Airline workers took huge pay, benefit and retirement cuts after the 2001 terrorist attacks and are itching to get some of it back. You can see the bag tags on crew bags at airports, slogans like, “We’re worth it.’’
Large bonuses handed to CEOs and other managers ratcheted up tensions at big airlines, including American and United.
But none of that means travelers will have to be on the lookout for a showdown that could lead to widespread delays, cancellations or even shutdowns.


“The board will only use cooling off when it’s close enough to get a resolution,’’ predicted Mr. Bailey.
Mr. Glass thinks it’s all about the economy. “The Mediation Board will be careful to not do anything to make this economy go backwards,” he said. “You’ll see a lot of care being taken before anyone gets in that situation.”
 

cybourg10

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Yes they are, looks like chocolate jesus isn't going to let us strike either. Its time to say f&ck it and just have a sick out.
 

PCL_128

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Is Obama's NMB in place, yet?

They are, but AMR and UAL are pretty far from getting to a release, so Russ is right about a "showdown" being pretty far down the road. UAL hasn't even gone into mediation yet, and the APA is miles apart from AMR in their negotiations, so a release will still be a while. HAL has a good chance of a release early in the year, though, and AirTran will probably follow soon after if there's no deal reached. The Obama NMB will try to clear out the old cases that languished in limbo during the Bush years before getting to the newer ones.
 

LearLove

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yes but what this wsj guy doesn't get is while the rest of the US work force has felt the recession for only the past 14 months, major airline pilots have been under the vice since shortly after 9/11/2001, going on 8 plus years now.

Paycuts, outsourcing to regionals, pension loss, age 65 combine this with stagnant/backward seniority movement caused by major jobs going to regionals (70 seat plus aircraft) This has all been going on for 8+ years and many at the majors with 10 or more years left are about to really say ENOUGH for real this time.

The recession may have started in the spring/summer 2008 for joe blow but for your less than very senior major airline pilot his/her recession started the second the buildings hit the ground.
 

bluefin

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yes but what this wsj guy doesn't get is while the rest of the US work force has felt the recession for only the past 14 months, major airline pilots have been under the vice since shortly after 9/11/2001, going on 8 plus years now.

Paycuts, outsourcing to regionals, pension loss, age 65 combine this with stagnant/backward seniority movement caused by major jobs going to regionals (70 seat plus aircraft) This has all been going on for 8+ years and many at the majors with 10 or more years left are about to really say ENOUGH for real this time.

The recession may have started in the spring/summer 2008 for joe blow but for your less than very senior major airline pilot his/her recession started the second the buildings hit the ground.

Can I have an, "AMEN"
 

jonjuan

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yes but what this wsj guy doesn't get is while the rest of the US work force has felt the recession for only the past 14 months, major airline pilots have been under the vice since shortly after 9/11/2001, going on 8 plus years now.

Paycuts, outsourcing to regionals, pension loss, age 65 combine this with stagnant/backward seniority movement caused by major jobs going to regionals (70 seat plus aircraft) This has all been going on for 8+ years and many at the majors with 10 or more years left are about to really say ENOUGH for real this time.

The recession may have started in the spring/summer 2008 for joe blow but for your less than very senior major airline pilot his/her recession started the second the buildings hit the ground.
What does this have to do with the point of the article? It was about the economy and airline financials being weak.
 
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flygirlqt

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ALPA won't rock the boat since they will be collecting dues regardless of it's lack of performance and representation with their constituents. Prater and his minions are laughing all the way to the bank.
 

CopilotDoug

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Done!
ALPA won't rock the boat since they will be collecting dues regardless of it's lack of performance and representation with their constituents.
Nuff said.
 

bluefin

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What does this have to do with the point of the article? It was about the economy and airline financials being weak.

According to your TTM, I would guess you joined the industry post 9/11. If so, you have no idea what the previous statement meant. You have no idea what the pre 9/11 industry was like. "it's the economy stupid".
 

waveflyer

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I get conflicted with this one. On the one hand, as a guy who voted for him- I'm tired of talk- he needs to stop 'working' and piss on the republicans and get things done despite the whining of a loud minority. With this one, it's not as if he owes our labor group anything. 70% of us didn't vote for him and are the tea-baggers and loony birthers getting all the press.

Maybe if we could at least stop working against our leverage, improvements could be made. But I know, gwbush wasn't f^cking us....It was just supply and demand. Didn't you know?
 

CopilotDoug

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Done!
I get conflicted with this one. On the one hand, as a guy who voted for him- I'm tired of talk- he needs to stop 'working' and piss on the republicans and get things done despite the whining of a loud minority.
Damn this republic! When will people realize that checks and balances do not work!?

With this one, it's not as if he owes our labor group anything.
Sounds like a surefire way to get the Union vote next time around.

70% of us didn't vote for him and are the tea-baggers and loony birthers getting all the press.
We know, we know...just ask Keith Olberman

Maybe if we could at least stop working against our leverage, improvements could be made. But I know, gwbush wasn't f^cking us....It was just supply and demand. Didn't you know?
Wait...wait...wait...was it G.W.B. who was screwing us, or did we screw ourselves? Better go back and find out what Kieth Olberman told you to think.
 
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