This thread is addressed to the pilots of Delta Air Lines and to the employees in general of US Airways. It is not addressed to the flight attendants, ground personnel and other staff of Delta Air Lines who have already had to accept huge paycheck reductions.
I beseech you to realize the dangerous position you are putting your jobs and the jobs of your fellow employees, millions of dollars worth of investments, and the future of airline service along your respective employers' routes in. By failing to agree to slight reductions in your paycheck, you run the risk that you will never receive a paycheck from Delta or US Airways again. This is not a question of you being over-compensated, or in more simple terms you not being worth the money the company spends on you, but rather a question of your company not being able to sustain its current cost structure due to a dramatic decrease in revenue. Since the tragic events of 9/11 and the economic downturn, economic patterns, especially relating to travel, have shifted dramatically.
Instead of preferring to fly on the well established network carriers, the public have turned in large numbers to an ever expanding number of low cost carriers, which take advantage of a large number of often temporary cost advantages to hugely under-sell the major carriers in terms of ticket prices, yet which are able to generate a profit as a result due to their low cost structure. The major carriers have to match the low fares on routes that face LCC competition, for obvious reasons. However, to do so frequently results in a loss as the major carriers have much higher cost structures. A portion of this cost is inevitable; it is baggage left over from years of doing business, years of debts, years of pensions accumulating and the added costs associated with providing regional and international services and using a hub-and-spoke route system.
However, the larger portion of these costs are adjustable. Both Delta and US Airways have made admirable progress in reducing costs in other areas, by cutting back service and improving efficiency. However, in both cases, one final area of cost needs to be addressed: labor costs. The salaries paid to pilots at Delta are way out of proportion to the industry average, and the salaries paid to most employees at US Airways remain out of proportion to the company's ability to generate revenue. This means that the sad reality is, as long as Delta and US Airways continue paying you what they currently are, they cannot generate a profit.
In both cases, management has made huge strides in reducing costs elsewhere, but still it is not enough. The LCCs are eroding the marketshare of both airlines and will continue to do so. In addition to the LCCs, both airlines also face the problem of competition from other network carriers and for shorter hauls, competition from the automobile. More people drive rather than fly now than before 9/11. Delta and US Airways both suffer from some of the highest cost structures in the industry, and until they can lower their labor costs this will continue to be the case, meaning that in the current economic condition it is unlikely that either company will be able to generate a profit. Both companies will run out of cash and be forced into bankruptcy.
By voting for concessions when it comes time to cast your ballot (assuming negotiations get that far with the leaders of your unions), you will be securing the long-term future of your paycheck, your pension and your travel benefits. I urge you to consider before voting "no" on a concession what your single no vote could potentially cost. It could cost you a 30-50% involuntary reduction in your salary when your company enters Chapter 11 protection (and it WILL
), or worse, it could cause you to no longer receive any paycheck at all should your company be liquidated. In addition, thousands of investors, many of them elderly retired persons, would loose their savings that they had invested in your companies under almost any scenario involving your company entering into bankruptcy. Finally, the consumer will loose out because left to their own devices with no competition, the LCCs will quickly raise their fares on all markets they will serve exclusively. In addition, should your company go under (likely in Chapter 11), the number of non-stop flights from cities such as ATL
to points around the country will be substantially reduced, in a manner similar to what has occurred at STL
following the unfortunate demise of TWA. Finally, proud companies with glorious, decades-long histories spanning nearly the entirety of commercial aviation will no longer exist.
However, by agreeing to a reduction in your salary, you will ensure the future of your paycheck, the future of your job, the future of your airline. You will help keep a vital transportation service in operation. You will help to ensure that air service continues in small communities, and that competition exists on the international markets. Finally, in a few years time when your companies return to economic health and prosperity, your paychecks will almost certainly increase. Think of it as an essential investment. By agreeing to these wage cuts now, you will be investing in your future, and in the future of your companies and the jobs of your fellow employees. Management will take pay cuts along with you. By working with management, rather than against them, you will contribute a great deal to the national transport system.
I urge you to consider this appeal. Nothing less than the future of your employer, your job and the jobs of your co-workers is at stake, nothing more than a "YES" vote on a 15% paycheck reduction is necessary to solve the problem.