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Freedumb Air, Just don't do it!!

ChinaClipper

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Public service announcement. Folks, Freedom Air is getting up and running, possibly hiring off the street soon. I want to try and explain a few things about how detrimental going to such an operation is. Freedumb was the brainchild of Mesa Air CEO Johnathan Ornstein as an attempt to circumvent Mesa pilots in the quest to get their industry bottom contract improved upon. America West (HP) has a contract to place 70/90 seat jets in their Express operation with Mesa. It is VERY important to Mesa, Ornstein and HP to get those planes in the air, the money to be made is HUGE (two 700's are already sitting in PHX.) Mesa managers tried to get our MEC to agree to some insultingly low wages to keep these planes on Mesa's certficate, of course, the MEC said try again. Mesa's response was a ENTIRELY NEW non-union airline to get around our contractual language that would have provided our MEC with tremendous leverage, for our ongoing Sec 6 negotiations. Ornstein has offered 12% over our already low 50 seat rate and a host of embarassingly low bennies, first to current Mesa pilots. The vast majority of our 1300 pilots have wisely passed, but a few,(around 20 or so LIFERS) have taken them up on the offer. The 250 hour FO's will come from MAPD/PACE program who, after spending 50 grand or so, won't be able to say no thanks. This attempt to get around ALPA has opened the first salvo in the battle for the immediate future of your profession. Going to Freedumb is confirming what managers already belive, mainly that around 15% of all pilots would sell their grandmothers to fly, regardless of the negative impact for the rest of us. The industry is already replacing 737/717etc flying with RJ's ie Delta Express 732's and USAir's F100/737's. Don't support giving the biggest boost in pilot productivity in since WWII away at such low rates. The future is now and the trend is clear, it appears all that is left is the price. Please don't do it for so little, giving it away now will take yeaaars to recoup. Please remind people looking for a flying job what has traditionally happened to people who support circumventing the established process, AND selling out the profession. Times are tough, I know, but please spread the word the Freedumb Air is bad news. PS Our MEC has successfully pushed through a Single carrier status for Mesa, CCAir, controlled by Ornstein, wouldn't going BACK to Mesa after going to Freedumb be interesting???PSS If you want to know about Ornstein in his stock broker days, Refer to Forbes magazine, around 9 APR 99 "Can a Lepoard Change his Spots" to get the low down on how he has been banned from trading...Can you say the new Lorenzo or is it the New Ivan Boesky? or Carl Ichan?
 

azpilot

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The sad fact is that I bet they could find pilots who are willing to pay to fly these jets. They are hiring flight attendants to.

Here's a link to the article:
http://www.forbes.com/global/1999/0809/215065a_print.html

Freedom is a bad idea although some do support it. They say ALPA has done nothing for them at Mesa and want to fly for a non-union outfit. If that is the case then go to someplace like Skywest where the wages are better. ALPA may not be perfect but I know they have improved things over the years at Mesa.

I feel sorry for the PACE folks who might be forced into these aircraft.

- AZPilot
 

Timebuilder

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That's part of what I have been saying.

ALPA's treatment of the regional pilot is coming home to roost. They thought they were protecting Big Iron jobs, and instead they have fostered a new cancer for the body of aviation.
 

B1900DFO

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Great post china clipper. The problem is that there are many young people out there who see freedom air as a way to get some quick jet pic and then move on to AA, Ual, etc. What they don't realize is that they are destroying the very jobs they want to get a leg up on by proving to airline management that pilots are not inherently worth anything when you can find hundreds of them that will fly a 70 seat jet for Wal Mart wages. Talk about lowering the bar. Ornstein probably laughs himself to bed every night at the thought of us working our a$$es off for 30k a year.

Az pilot: Just to clarify something, as far as I understand Alpa national does not determine what pay rates mesa gets. If you are dissapointed in them then look to your own mec who negotiated the rates and fellow pilots that let them get away with it. Alpa merely provides resources to failitate your own bargaining.
 

bobbysamd

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Freedom Air

Everyone concerned should read both volumes of Flying the Line and Hard Landing by Thomas Petzinger, Jr. to gain a perspective of this issue.

As they say, history repeats itself. Mr. O, say "hello" to Frank and Dick (Ferris). Don't forget about your old buddy and ancestor, E.L. Cord. No doubt about it, Mesa will find pilots to fly these aircraft. As we know, there is no pilot shortage (of course, Kit will disagree!!). My G-d, not counting the furloughees, there are enough pilots available to staff several airlines.
 
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AAflyer

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B1900DFO,

You are right on, it will only take time. They will try to continue to lower the bar, wether airline (major) pay is too high is another conversation, but many will continue to look for the lowest bidder, you can see that now, compnaies like Eagle are having their jets given to other carriers who will fly for less (not blaming the pilots over at connection either). As the pay and benefits are rasied at the Comairs and ACAs to where they sould be and what they deserve you will find another bunch of airlines ready to undercut them.

Freedom Air IS a cancer to all of us, you have that right on the money, but you do have choice if you fly for them or not. I went through this very expensive training course and now they are making me fly a 90seat jet for $20 bucks an hour, sorry I have to do it. BS. Excuses are like A$$holes, every one has one..

AAflyer
 

captjim

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Any pilot of F#$Kup Air is a scab in my eyes. They will be treated that way!
 

Mr. Irrelevant

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That article was pretty interesting. He seems to have completed the turnaround by both cutting and growing depending on when the opportunities are available. Of course, the article is one-sided and the source is usually very complimentary to Execs. Sure was an interesting spin to those charges at the end of the article; "My problem was that when a client lost money, I felt so bad that I would do anything to try and make it back for him."
Too funny, although I doubt his bosses at those firms were laughing when he was fired. I'll bet MESA is a real stickler for RULES in contracts being followed by pilots.

On another note, does anyone here know anything about the legality in employment law of either routing all new flying to a startup or continually shutting down operations and starting up new company's to circumvent union contracts? I don't know J-A-C-K about that issue. Based on all I read here, Ornstein seems to be leading the charge in this area and other than some costs involved I don't see why this couldn't be accomplished every time contracts are up? Seems as if it might cost quite a bit but if a company does it once, why wouldn't they do it more than once?


Mr. I.
 

dav8or

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azpilot said:
The sad fact is that I bet they could find pilots who are willing to pay to fly these jets. They are hiring flight attendants to.

Here's a link to the article:
http://www.forbes.com/global/1999/0809/215065a_print.html


- AZPilot

"Why? A lengthy disciplinary record charging unauthorized trading, misrepresentation, document alteration and churning. Eventually, Ornstein was fined $20,000 and suspended as a broker for three years.


Can a leopard change its spots? Radical transformations are not common, but they do happen. There seems to have been one here."

Doesn't sound like he has changed his spots to me. Anything less than 29% plus 50 seat pay would be an insult.

At CHQ we get paid 12% less to fly the 140 with 6 fewer seats. Same aircraft and type but less pay because it has 12% few seats. We are fight this on out next contract. Mesa needs to set the tone for this new AC. And based on the increased seating 29% over the 50 seat pay would be fair.

If you are thinking about going to Freedom Air. You are an opportunist and will be making a big mistake. Wait until you see what the U pilots are going to make at Mid Atlantic flying the 70 seat RJ. From the Mesa pilots I talk to and what I read Ornstein seems pretty slippery. I'ld hate to not have a union and have to deal with him.
 

FlyinBrian

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I'm not so sure about this one... As a Mesa pilot, I'd definitely be pissed at any other Mesa pilot who jumped ship. But if you're a pilot on the street looking for a job, what's the difference between going to Freedom and going to Skywest? Both are non-union carriers that will compete with other airlines for feeder business. I understand that America West would be going to another carrier for the 70 seat jets, thereby selling Mesa pilots out, but I don't beleive mesa pilots have anything in their contract to ensure that new AmWest express flying goes to them.

As a furloughed Eagle pilot, I'm not pissed at the TSA and CHQ pilots that the company has given my job to. Nor would I be pissed at a newhire at CHQ or TSA for going there even though he knows full well that he's working for a company who is stealing flying from another company's pilots. He's trying to make a buck just like I am. I'm pissed at the company for giving him a job.

I agree that Freedumb air is a wholesale sellout of Mesa pilots, and a bad idea. But I can hardly fault a pilot, especially from MAPD for persuing the opportunity. It's not scabbing, it's not crossing a picket line. It's management that deserves to be hated.

The biggest difference I can see is that freedom is being started solely to circumvent Mesa pilots who won't cave. TSA and CHQ were already operating and the pilots who were working there were unwittingly told to start flying as American Connection. You can hardly expect them to quit. But how do you all feel about a newhire who goes to fly for TSA or CHQ on the American Connection system? Isn't he just as bad as a newhire at Freedom?
 

azpilot

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FlyinBrian said:
But if you're a pilot on the street looking for a job, what's the difference between going to Freedom and going to Skywest? Both are non-union carriers that will compete with other airlines for feeder business.

Skywest pays its pilots better and treats them better overall. If no one would take the Freedom jobs JO would have to put this under Mesa and pay a fair wage. Current Mesa pilots are paid a lot less than some of their counterparts and JO keeps trying to lower the bar vs maintain it or raise it. In many cases it is not a matter of being unable to pay pilots better as so many carriers claim. It is a matter of how much money the owners want to line their pockets with. Sad truth. The industry is in a period of change that will most likely last a lifetime but this doesn't mean the pilots should be paid less than the security screeners or a head fry cook at McDonalds. JO could easily give his employees across the board a raise. The airline is mis-managed. It is like a friend of mine at Eagle said. Management didn't want to pay the pilots another $1.50 an hour. He said it is so easy to slow the plane down and make that money back. If a company has happy employees it can and will be successful.

- AZPilot
 

FlyinBrian

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I agree with all of your statements. My question remains, why the animostiy toward non-mesa pilots who go to work for freedom? Just because Skywest has better pay and work rules doesn't really mean much. It we go by that criterion, somone who works for Great Lakes is selling out the profession as well.

Just to be clear (and hopefully avoid some intense flame) I think the creation of freedom is a terrible thing for the industry, and Jhonny O may as well be Frank Lorenzo.

What I don't understand is trying to give near-scab status to any pilot who goes to work for freedom. Mesa pilots who cross to Freedom deserve such status. They should be committed to their own union. But it seems that if you're prepared to call non-Mesa Freedom pilots scabs, you have to throw a lot of other pilots underneath the same label. It would seem to me that unless we negotiated an industry-wide pay structure, anyone who works for less than industry average deserves the status that you are trying to assign to non-Mesa freedom pilots.
 

tintube

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"I understand that America West would be going to another carrier for the 70 seat jets, thereby selling Mesa pilots out, but I don't beleive mesa pilots have anything in their contract to ensure that new AmWest express flying goes to them."

-Actually I belive that Mesa Air Group has a contract to fly the 70 and 90 seaters for AWA.
-------
"But if you're a pilot on the street looking for a job, what's the difference between going to Freedom and going to Skywest? Both are non-union carriers that will compete with other airlines for feeder business."


-Well, if you go to Skywest the pay and standar of living is considerably higher :)

With negotiation going on in Mesa I would be doing a lot of research and thinking before I was to start in ANY newly-started division ( especially a no-union one ) of a company currently in contract negotiating...........
Skywest might compete with other airlines but one question is will Freedom Airlines, a part of Mesa Airgroup end up compete against another part of Mesa Airgroup: Mesa Airlines?............
 

tintube

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" My question remains, why the animostiy toward non-mesa pilots who go to work for freedom? "

There are not any non-mesa pilots flying for Freedom.

As far as I know they do not even have a approved certificate or manual yet. They started Ground school last week. With what I hear about the low # of Mesa pilots that actually asked to fly for Freedom, I guess that will only be a question of time before they have to hire from the street.

Heck, personally I do not care who fly for them. It should be a personal choise.

What I find find interresting though is that the pilots that leaves Mesa to go to Freedom gets 1 year LOA and will keep their seniority # at Mesa if they go back. What is the chance that I get a LOA if I was to leave Mesa to work for another carrier........
 

AAflyer

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FlyinBrian,

Comparing great lakes to an airline that will be deploying 70-90 seat jets is like apples to oranges. It is pathetic what great Lakes gets paid, but paying jet pilots to fly for the same peanuts is worse. At least at Lakes and other commuters you are there to build time and get on with a better paying airline. If this continues there will not be any better paying airlines to goto.

I am not sure I would use the word scab, but if this type of company continues to grow it will cause wages across the board to eventually be lowered.

It is a personal choice, just like PFT. What it does to the profession is clear, what you want the profession to be for yourself and the next generation is up to you.

Where does it stop, next 90-110 seat jets. ( for all purposes you are flying 737,727-100,DC-9-10s,F-100,F-28s at commuter wages while Ornstein (Lorenzo types) line their pockets. Pilots will allow this not anyone else, no one is forcing anyone into the cockpit, and if someone tells you they have a family to feed, tell them to go work for the TSA. Being a screener these days pays more than many of regionals.

AAflyer

P.S. Yes, before anyone asks me that question in return. I would go work else where before I took a job flying a 90 seat jet as an fo for $18k. It is selling out the profession.
 

FlyinBrian

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I guess it's supply and demand. I personally won't go to work for freedom because I respect the Mesa pilots, and have a good number of friends over there. I'm not sure that I'd be selling out the profession any more than a lot of other folks.

I fall back to the TSA and CHQ example. They are flying jets for cheaper than Eagle pilots, and taking jets and jobs from pilots who have a contractual right to the flying. Yet I don't hear anyone accusing them of selling out the profession. The animosity in that conflict is properly directed at the managment that allows this.

I guess this is just another facet of aviation that makes me dream about one list. If we allow our wages to go to market wages, we will be paid very poorly. There are lots of us willing to do the job. Usually, I am in favor of letting free markets run free. However, we've seen what happens in the airline industry without collective representation. In the interest of safety and professionalism, we need to bargain collectively. As long as there are A and B scale pilots on different seniority lists, we have no true collective baragaining power, and someone is going to fly jets for 18K a year. How can you blame them when the alternative is the unemployment line?
 

AAflyer

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FlyinBrian,

Obviuosly something is wrong with the jets going to TSA and CHQ, as there is a lawsuit and meeting with the board scheduled shortly.

You are right, I can't change someone's mind who wants to pay for training, and if somone wants to fly a 100 seat jet for 18k, but please don't tell me you don't have a choice. Full time as a waiter, bar tender, secratary, security guard, department store clerk etc. etc. pays more money than that. If you truly can not see how this will change the biz then there is no point in going any further.

But remember one thing, whether in the cockpit, job interview, or daily rituals of life, everybody has a choice!!

AAflyer
 

enigma

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Out of curiosity, what is the current pay rate for a mid-seniority Mesa 50 seat RJ Captain? What is the proposed 70 seat pay scale? I ask because Mesa was paying a few Brasilia captains almost $50K when I worked there 12 years ago. I have inquired about 50 seat RJ pay and have been told that Mesa's senior RJ Captains can make over $80K at the present.

IF that is the case, this freedom gig may not be that bad (assuming that it is legal I don't know about that issue), nor is Mesa. Unfortunately, for all of the lip service paid to "unity" there are still more pilots than jobs, and in todays market, the pressure on wages is downward. If a pilot can fly and make $80K or more per year, maybe he should take it. That's the way the industry is going and it is still more money than the average working man makes. Those of us at the middle, (me) and those of you at the regional level, no longer have an overpaid major pilot to compare ourselves to; those guys are on furlough, or are looking at a big pay cut. I believe that it is entirely possible that SWA will be the standard within 5 years, not UAL. In that light, JohnnyO and his overgrown Challengers don't seem so bad.

regards
8N

PS, I'm not advocating working for less, just recognizing reality. This is not PFT, yet; so I won't equate it as such. It's just the market at work.
 
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Timebuilder

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Considering how many pilots feel about ALPA, and the condition of the aviation business, I can easily see how Southwest will be the standard in a few years. In this post-regulation environment, there is nothing to stop their success, or their growth.

A sumo wrestler may have great strength and inertia, but I can turn quicker and beat him in both a sprint and a marathon. What we have known as "major" airlines are the "sumos" of aviation, and companies like Southwest are lean and agile, like the judoka.

The Japanese say "warkaremas", meaning "I understand". The majors need to gain "understanding" in order to survive.
 

doubleeagle140

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I keep hearing that CHQ and TSA pilots are undercutting the eagle pilots out there to steal their flying. I am a CHQ captain and I totally disagree with that statement. I just want to ask any Eagle pilot out there what their pay rate is for a 4th year captain on the E-145. I will bet that we at CHQ make at least the same and probably more. We here at CHQ turned down a contract last summer with pay rates in the Comair/ACA range to go back to the table for a better one. And if you want to talk about quality of life issues, then as a 4th year captain, can you consistantly get lines of flying with 17-18 days off, all weekends off, and still fly 85 hours a month. Also we hear at CHQ do not have Junior Manning. So, before you make the statement that we hear at CHQ are undercutting you, please look into your statements.
 
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