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Continental pilots sending message at shareholders meeting

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May 2, 2002

, June 9, 2009, 9:34am CDT | Modified: Tuesday, June 9, 2009, 10:37am

Pilots to protest at Continental meeting

Houston Business Journal - by Greg Barr Senior Reporter

Continental Airlines Inc. pilots will set up early morning picket lines at the Hyatt Regency hotel June 10 to coincide with the company’s annual meeting of shareholders.

According to a release, the pilots want to “remind Continental management that the sacrifices made by the Continental pilots in their last contract, in which they agreed to annual concessions of over $200 million, is a ‘loan’ that is due.”

The contract became amendable on Dec. 31, 2008.

The pilots are members of the Air Line Pilots Association union. The union is seeking a renewed focus and commitment by management so that a new contract can be promptly negotiated.

Capt. Jay Pierce, representing the airline’s 5,000 pilots, will address company management and directors during the meeting.

Separately, two resolutions proposed by shareholders of Houston-based Continental (NYSE: CAL) will be put to a vote at the meeting.

One resolution calls for an end to stock option grants for senior executives, which Continental officials oppose, saying such a measure would be “unduly restrictive.”

According to its proxy filing, Continental has not given options to senior executives since 2003, but needs “flexibility” in deciding whether to award options in the future.

Another shareholder proposal suggests that the company be reincorporated in “shareholder friendly” North Dakota.

A two-year-old state law allows for shareholders to vote to reincorporate a company in North Dakota and adopt the measures of the 2007 North Dakota Publicly Traded Corporations Act, which among other items includes annual votes on executive pay, the declassification of boards of directors and the separation of the board chairman and chief executive positions.

Continental officials also oppose that proposal.
Thank you to everyone that participated! Larry Kellner asked if any shareholders would like to speak. A woman in the back stood up a identified herself as a shareholder and a pilots wife. She gave an excellent speech describing pilot concessions and the overall morale of the pilot group. At the end of her speach she got a standing ovation from the pilots, and even a few shareholders joined in. That took guts to say what she said, and even Mr. Kellner knew it. The look on his face was priceless! Thank you for making my day!
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Any word on how many Pilots showed up? I would have loved to have heard that speech the lady gave.
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According to Larry Kellner 260. A much smaller number than past events, but we filled the room and really made our presence known. From what I could tell all the regulars were there, and as usual ,alot of EWR pilots made the trip.
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Cool. Not that it matters in the end but cool. PanAm was doing that for years in NY.

HOUSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Continental Airlines pilots, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l. (ALPA), conducted informational picketing today at the Hyatt Regency hotel in downtown Houston, site of the Continental Airlines annual stockholders meeting. Capt. Jay Pierce, chairman of the ALPA chapter for the Continental pilots, led the 260 pilots in attendance into the stockholder meeting, where he addressed management, Continental’s Board of Directors and stockholders.
In Capt. Pierce’s statement, he said, in part, “Continental Airlines has gained a reputation as a leader in the industry and a leader in its treatment of employees. I come before you with one simple demand: show us that you are willing to be a leader when it comes to dealing with your pilots. One year ago, we made it clear that we expected you to develop a business plan that fully recognized and addressed the concessions we have endured, the purchasing power we have lost and the uncertainties we have faced.
“Five years ago when you came to us insisting that our very survival as an airline depended on concessions, we completed a deal in a matter of months. From that point on, we have suffered through massive concessions and givebacks of over $200M per year, plus all of the problems that a rushed contract has brought. Just as we focused then on the efforts needed to help save Continental, it is now time for you to focus the same energy and resources toward negotiating a return on our investment.
“The deadline to reach an on-time contract came and went with the passing of our amendable date 161 days ago. Even though you have been willing to meet with us regularly, our proposed changes so far have been met with numerous and time-consuming counter-proposals. This has resulted in tentative agreements for only nine of the more than 30 sections of our contract and has delayed discussion of the economic sections. Ladies and gentlemen, we are here to state: the loan is not just due, but past due – by 161 days and counting.”
Capt. Pierce also emphasized the core areas of the contract that must be addressed in the pilots’ contract: compensation, retirement, work rules and scheduling, and job security.
The purpose of the pilots’ presence at the stockholders meeting and the informational picketing was to remind Continental management that the sacrifices made by the Continental pilots in their last contract, in which they agreed to annual concessions of over $200M, is a “loan” that is due. The contract became amendable on Dec. 31, 2008. At the date of the stockholders meeting, June 10, the pilots’ contract was 161 days past the amendable date.
The Continental pilots and Continental management entered early negotiations in July 2007. Legal notice to enter formal negotiations under Section 6 of the Railway Labor Act was given by the union to Continental Airlines on April 7, 2008. The parties have completed tentative agreements on nine sections of the contract, each of which was relatively minor, but was preceded by multiple counter-proposals from the Company that required considerable time to reach agreement. Dozens more sections remain untouched, including prime issues such as pay, work rules, benefits and retirement.
Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilot union representing nearly 54,000 cockpit crewmembers at 36 airlines in the U.S. and Canada, including the 5,000 Continental pilots. For more information, visit the ALPA website at www.alpa.org.

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