At ASA, there was a magic formula ALPA came up with based on seniortiy, and whether you are a Captain or F/O. It seems the Captains pay was twice that of F/O's pay. Since it was considered a signing bonus, it was taxed 40%!!
Oh yeah, lets call it a signing bonus. For some reason a captains "signature" is worth more than an FO's. sometimes 500% more.
From my recollection at ASA
FO's between $300-$3600
CAPT between $5600-$16000+?
I knew senior FO's (48 months) that got $3200 while their buddies junior to them in the first week of upgrade class got a captain share around $5800
Some felt that longevity beyond the contract negotiations time frame should not count....I agree. Some felt that seat position should not count...I also agree. But because our pay rates were not substantially increased at the top end. The union HAD to make the senior guys happy by giving them something.
Try and get a DAILY RATE up to negotiation length. Say $5 for everyday you have been there. You been here 5 months?, here's $750. You been here slogging it out through all negotiations? here's $8200 THAT IS A SIGNING BONUS
The ASA formula looked at seat position, longevity, and how much you got screwed by the new contract. They simply worked it out to piss off the smallest group of people. It was called a signing bonus but was a cheesy version of retro pay.
Oh and by the way everybody in charge of the distribution were captains. I'm sure that was just a coincidence. The union held NO VOTE on the distribution method, but we did vote recently whether we should pay cobra for our pilots on furlough.
PS I'm stating these numbers from memory, so I may be off a little. Or maybe a bunch. I think I purposely killed the brain cells associated with that whole debacle.