Mesaba deal: 5.1%-26.7% pay hikes
Liz Fedor, Star Tribune
Published January 14, 2004
Mesaba Airlines pilots will get pay raises ranging from 5.1 to 26.7 percent under a contract agreement reached early Sunday morning.
The majority of first officers, who fly Saab turboprops and four-engine Avro regional jets, would get a pay boost of 13.4 percent when the contract is signed, according to a contract summary released Tuesday by the pilots union.
The average starting pay of a Mesaba pilot would jump from $17,352 to $23,542. Pilots at the top of the experience scale are expected to earn $94,483 under the new contract, which is comparable to $85,445 under the existing contract.
The union's elected leadership voted unanimously to recommend the tentative agreement to the airline's 844 pilots, who will vote on the contract Jan. 23-29. A simple majority is required for ratification.
The pilots contract came open in June 2002. Pilots will receive retroactive pay for 2003 but not for 2002. Union leaders said pilots will receive retroactive paychecks ranging from $450 to $6,300. First officers will get retroactive pay that equals 10 percent of their 2003 flight pay, while captains will get 5 percent of their 2003 earnings for their retroactive payments.
If the pilots approve the contract, Mesaba captains will get 5.1 percent pay raises when the contract is signed. The first officers would get increases of 13.4 to 26.7 percent, with the biggest pay-scale increase going to the new hires. The contract signing most likely would occur in late January or early February.
The tentative agreement spans five years and calls for 2 percent increases in years two and three and 4 percent increases in years four and five.
While pay was a critical issue for the pilots, job security was of equal importance, union leaders said.
For example, the new Mesaba agreement prevents MAIR Holdings, Mesaba's parent corporation, from using Montana-based Big Sky Airlines for expansion flying. MAIR acquired the small, Montana-based airline in December 2002, and MAIR CEO Paul Foley told Wall Street analysts in October that he wanted to diversify the company by finding airline partners for Big Sky.
The pilots union has altered Foley's plans. In a contract summary, Mesaba ALPA said, Big Sky will be "permanently limited to flying aircraft with 19 or fewer seats." Pilots at Big Sky are represented by the United Transportation Union.
The union said the tentative agreement also greatly improves the retirement plan for Mesaba pilots. Union leaders said they are pleased with the new contract because it puts their contract in the top tier with other major regional airlines -- Comair, Air Wisconsin and Atlantic Coast.
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Source: Minneapolis StarTribune