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Not all of the UAL pilots want his agreement to pass.

100/hour/5y

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Not all of the UAL pilots want his agreement to pass.

From: Jerry Leber
Subject: A path to a quick fix for some of the TA's worst flaws


Fellow pilots,


Our contracts’ amendable dates were 12/31/08 for LCAL pilots and 12/31/09 for LUAL pilots. By our account the company’s delay tactics were largely to blame, but by all accounts the combination of two extremely different contracts was both painstaking and time consuming.


It is clear that the call for release to the NMB created a sense of urgency for all the parties and helped bring this negotiation to an AIP, but what is also clear is that our negotiators were in no position to close the deal in the all-important end-game. We all remember the more than three months it took for the parties to actually agree on exactly what they agreed to in the form of a TA. Anyone who has negotiated to buy a house or even a car knows that this is no way to secure the best deal possible.


The bad news is that it took 3-4 years past our respective amendable dates to achieve what almost everyone agrees is a disappointing TA, but the good news is if we turn it down that time-consuming effort of meshing two disparate pilot contracts doesn’t need to be repeated. All that remains is to fix some glaring and important flaws in this TA and we have far more leverage with the company than we did just a few months ago.


The most unacceptable item from a unionist perspective in this TA is LOA 25 in which a relatively small group of our brothers and sisters who were furloughed would be treated as second class citizens even though the financial impact of making them whole is very small (est. $3M) on the company, but it is enormous upon these pilots' lives. These twice-furloughed LUAL pilots will have their longevity credit for the time they were furloughed limited unlike other pilots from LUAL, LCAL, DAL, NWA and other airlines because a very few want to preserve our furloughees' disadvantage for others imaginary SLI benefit and in doing so deny these furloughees and their families thousands of dollars of much needed and well-earned compensation that is meaningless to the company. There is an inspiring ground swell of support from the LCAL pilots to right this wrong because they recognize it as simply unjust. If there is one thing we should have learned over the years it is to never eat our young. Even if we discount the potential economic impact on such cannibalistic behavior to the Association, the cost in terms of fomenting never ending disunity alone should give us reason to pause. Have we not learned our lessons?


Another overarching problem with this TA was the failure to extract from the company their end of the grand bargain. Towards the end of the negotiation the MECs agreed to allow the JNC to submit a UAX 76 seat RJ proposal but only in return for Delta + compensation. The TA RJ proposal gives the company all the benefits of the DAL RJ proposal, but the shrinkage in Delta Connection block hours and mainline growth that DAL pilots are receiving as a result of 88 717s entering their mainline fleets is just a hope in our contract. Our TA allows UAX to add 67 76-seat RJs without parking one 70-seat UAX RJ. All they would have to do is park enough 50-seaters to keep the overall UAX block hours steady. There are 75 older and very high-maintenance CRJ-200s that are the obvious choice. The rest of the 50-seat UAX fleet are relatively new and more standardized EMB-145s largely flown by favored partner ExpressJet. Only if at some future date UAL decides to order mainline E190/5s or Bombardier CS100s will United pilots enjoy the mainline job growth and UAX block hour shrinkage that our DAL counterparts now experiencing.


Did we get DAL + compensation in return for our UAX 76-seat RJ scope proposal? NO!


• We got DAL - 8.5% in 2013, -3% in 2014 and -3% in 2015, the year in which the DAL contract becomes amendable.
• While our B/C plan will be 1-2% higher our new long-term disability (LTD) plan will cost us $150-$221 a month out of pocket while DAL’s LTD is better and paid by the company.
• Delta pilots got two on-time contracts which are the equivalent of 100% retro pay while we are getting about 50% and still don’t have the exact accounting that our union promised prior to voting to avoid another bond debacle of mis-preconceptions of what is actually due. Vague charts are inadequate.
• Delta pilots got 5% of the equity in DAL while we are getting zero. Today this is worth about $30,000/pilot.


The rationale the company used and that we bought to rationalize this year delay in the DAL pay rates was their inability to add 76-seat RJs to the UAX fleet within a year. It is safe to say that United pilots are sick and tired of paying for management incompetence.


The solutions to some of the biggest problems are pretty simple.


• Adjust the limit on UAX block hours to drop immediately and proportionally from the first UAX 76-seat RJ that is added, not starting with the 154th.
• DAL pay from day one.
• United pilots receive 10% of UAL stock that is immediately sellable. The extra 5% would be to compensate for the substandard retro.


Finally, work rules. We need to be assured that the adoption of the CAL PBS system and many of their work rules are not going to destroy pilots’ quality of life. The average 5 hours/day definitely helps, but we also need the 3.5 to 1 trip rig that Delta pilots have enjoyed for years much sooner than a year after our seniority lists are merged. Line-holders should not become reserves and the crew desk should not have near limitless access to reserves even into their days off. Also, if forced junior-manning is as rare and unlikely as the sales pitch would have us believe then it begs a simple question. Then why is the company so adamant about having it? Removing it from our agreement would be a sign of good faith on their part that they truly want to build a better culture with their pilots. It would show that they are willing to use incentives such as ADD pay instead of continuing to depend on sticks.


That’s all great, but what leverage to we have?


The biggest lever we have is the company finally needs this agreement. Wall Street and the institutional investors who control UAL stock are clearly growing frustrated with the poor return on their investment and the prospects going forward especially when the financial and service comparisons with DAL are so clearly deficient. UAL’s superior network is still compelling, but the analysts have seen the exodus of premium customers away from United. It is clear to them that this TA and the integration of the pilot groups are necessary for any UAL turnaround to begin. A strong NO vote would certainly shock airline analysts and could not be helpful to the UAL stock price.


At WHQ a myriad of IT projects including the migration from Unimatic to CAL’s Crew Management System (CMS) are on hold awaiting the pilot contract. The company needs to complete this migration by the end of 2013 ahead of the new FAR 117 Flight Time/Duty Time deadline. With the opening of new pilot bases and separate pilot groups the complexity and inefficiencies of the operation continue to grow and the company falls further behind in their pilot training backlog that can only be solved by getting pilots to fly more hours per month. The only plausible way to do that is for this manpower negative TA to pass.


The public call for release by the NMB got us this far, and that strike/release threat is far more credible now that the election is behind us. Labor was critical in the key state of Ohio and ALPA is a member of the AFL-CIO whose leader was in the Oval Office meeting with the President a week after his reelection. NMB Board member, Linda Puchala, personally told our MECs that she needs to know immediately if the TA fails what the pilots’ reasons for turning it down are. This clearly indicates that our contract is a high priority for the NMB and this Administration, but given both parties are motivated to reach an agreement NMB involvement is not required.


Finally, while the fears of UAL management wanting to shrink LUAL are warranted their ability to do so is limited by non-terminable protections in the TPA and the LUAL contract. The “replacement aircraft” provision in the TPA doesn’t expire like some provisions arguably may on March 31, 2013. This provision mandates that aircraft ordered after the legal merger, like UAL’s July 2012 737 order, will be flown by the pilots from the legacy airline whose planes are parked regardless of whether that plane is currently in that fleet. So if there is no TA by August 2013 when those 50 737-900ERs start arriving to replace the retiring LUAL 757-200s then LUAL pilots will fly those 737s and will be trained by LUAL instructors.


We are also protected by sections 1-F-1/2, the minimum block hour guarantee, of our contract and 1-C-1-d of our contract that limits UAX block hours to no more than UAL mainline block hours. We currently have grievances filed against the company for exceeding that contractual limit. If the company reduced LUAL mainline block hours they would have to reduce UAX block hours proportionally.

 

100/hour/5y

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On September 11, 2001, the world changed for the airline industry and the pilots of United Airlines in particular. More than any other pilot group we sacrificed to save our company, we gave up over fourteen-billion dollars in concessions as well as the loss of our pensions for the promise of shared sacrifice, shared reward. We paid that price to retain some semblance of our work rules. Anyone who has seen the objective list of concessionary gives to the company in terms of both work rules and other areas realizes that life is going to be very different for the United pilots in the coming years if this TA is ratified. The reasons to vote yes are simply not compelling in terms of threat when one looks objectively at the very real and practical protections we have in place in our current CBA, T&PA, realities in the industry, and pressures on senior management. The reasons to vote yes are also often stated in a political context, i.e., “We need to move on.” Isn’t that exactly how the company and others have positioned us to get their way? The price of moving on at this moment will be staggering, the pain will be felt for the next six to eight years. The value received in the demonstration of a little more patience will be rewarded.


We have come a long way in this fight for what we are due. Our predecessors faced much more daunting prospects and far longer odds. We work for the world’s largest airline with the best network. UAL has $7B in the bank and is profitable despite gross mismanagement. If we fail to take the slightest risk even when the circumstances are so favorable then we should not expect management to deal fairly with us in the future. This is a critical and defining moment that will determine what type of airline for which we will work for the rest of our careers.


Jerry Leber
 

Av8er

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Amen brother!
 
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