kith
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Get Rid Of Seniority System

Thu Mar 17, 2005 12:16 pm

I've been thinking about this over and over again...
Why don't airlines/new airlines get rid of the seniority system for F/A's, Pilots etc? In most other fields, say banking/real estate/education/retail, you get promoted based on results, not on a number or how many years with the company. I want to hear what everyone thinks, but especially those flying the line. Thanks. -Matt in KITH
 
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jetjack74
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RE: Get Rid Of Seniority System

Thu Mar 17, 2005 12:18 pm

And throw out the rule of law while you're at it.
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sllevin
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RE: Get Rid Of Seniority System

Thu Mar 17, 2005 12:22 pm

Doesn't make sense because there's no way to get "results." Pretty much, pilots are all good and of equal value to the company. Seniority is the only differentiator.

Steve
 
FRA2DTW
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RE: Get Rid Of Seniority System

Thu Mar 17, 2005 12:25 pm

I would like to see a national ALPA seniority system so when someone like TWA goes down, the pilots can integrate into other ALPA carriers. After all, pilots have very little to do with the success or failure of an airline. The current system is archaic.
 
N766UA
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RE: Get Rid Of Seniority System

Thu Mar 17, 2005 12:41 pm

I don't see any other way besides seniority.... It's been that way since the '30s.
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Lemurs
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RE: Get Rid Of Seniority System

Thu Mar 17, 2005 12:41 pm

Quoting Sllevin (Reply 2):
Doesn't make sense because there's no way to get "results." Pretty much, pilots are all good and of equal value to the company. Seniority is the only differentiator.

Right. You need to know the consequences of your incentive programs before you put them in place. In a business like flying, at least for pilots and MX, you want them focused squarely on getting the job done safely. Putting carrots and sticks out there distracts from that to a great degree, and accidents would start happening...even if the goal was based around safety! Once you try and put metrics around anything, people will attempt to game the system for gain. You can't game seniority.
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kith
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RE: Get Rid Of Seniority System

Thu Mar 17, 2005 12:53 pm

Well, the idea of paying on experience but it doesn't make sense to me that a 30 year veteran say for US leaves and goes to fly for AA and although he/she has a lot more experience then say a 5 year AA FO he/she starts at the bottom. If I was a chief analyst/manager say for Wal Mart, I wouldn't go start out as a cashier. -Matt in KITH
 
pdxtriple7
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RE: Get Rid Of Seniority System

Thu Mar 17, 2005 1:02 pm

I can understand senority system with Pilots and other important jobs, that makes their jobs easier and safer for everyone, but why not flight attendants and gate/ counter agents on performance? Some do their jobs much better than others, and they should be rewarded for that. Incentives would create more production and customer service from those that wanted to climb up the latter quicker.
 
avek00
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RE: Get Rid Of Seniority System

Thu Mar 17, 2005 1:10 pm

"I can understand senority system with Pilots and other important jobs, that makes their jobs easier and safer for everyone, but why not flight attendants and gate/ counter agents on performance? Some do their jobs much better than others, and they should be rewarded for that. Incentives would create more production and customer service from those that wanted to climb up the latter quicker."

Union and non-union airlines alike use the seniority system because of the lack of an acceptable alternative objective retention and promotion regime. For most rank-and-file workers in the airline business, where the duties of a given job are standardized and routine, a "performance"-based system would prove counterproductive, as it encourages cutting corners in the name of meeting targets.
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zippyjet
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RE: Get Rid Of Seniority System

Thu Mar 17, 2005 1:13 pm

Human beings are SUBJECTIVE! There is already way too much favoritism and politicking in almost all work places! If God declared and made us all 100% objective than maybe then we can talk about this unwanted change. I'm a customer service agent with almost three years and am cracking the top 10! So you know damn well that if you came to my station and proposed this, then we might just have to have a little sit down!. Within our company we have programs and recognition for excellence. Change for the sake of change can be another nail in the coffin of common sense and structure. Take one look at our society today and it is evident of the erosion of courtesy, decency and most of all common sense.

I'm Zippyjet & I approve of this message!
 
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lightsaber
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RE: Get Rid Of Seniority System

Thu Mar 17, 2005 2:20 pm

Quoting Sllevin (Reply 2):
Doesn't make sense because there's no way to get "results." Pretty much, pilots are all good and of equal value to the company. Seniority is the only differentiator.

Out of curiosity, has any airline adopted an hours based seniority system? For pilots and f/a there seems to be an obvious cost reduction benifit as well as reward system. Obviously, current (or modified) faa limits would need to be in place to prevent egregious abuses.

And I disagree on one point: I'd like at least one of the two pilots to have some gray hair! Old-pilot=skilled enough to survive. As long as the person can pass the physical,that is...

Lightsaber
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Revelation
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RE: Get Rid Of Seniority System

Thu Mar 17, 2005 3:07 pm

In my non-aviation, high-tech career, I would have found a seniority system to be a huge negative. You only learn so much working with the same people in the same system. After a while, it's time to move on. While the present employer doesn't necessarily agree it's a good idea, in the long run it is. If there were a seniority system there'd be such a penalty in moving, no one would do it once they had a year or two invested in a company, and we'd all rot in place. Seniority leads to a very stagnant workforce.
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VC-10
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RE: Get Rid Of Seniority System

Thu Mar 17, 2005 3:40 pm

It a way it's quite amusing reading this thread with everybody justifying the seniority system as the only way. In the UK at least, I do not know of a company that uses senority as way of promotion in Mx and it doesn't compromise safety.

Over the last couple of years I have worked closely with a couple of large US operators and from what I have seen all the seniority system does is promote some people above their capabilties which then demotivates good people below them. It also disuades people changing jobs because they have to start at the bottom again regardless of how proficient they are at their chosen career.
 
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RE: Get Rid Of Seniority System

Thu Mar 17, 2005 3:47 pm

The seniority system is very important in the sense that it protects the pilots form unfair play. Would it be right to have a 25 year-old pilot fly the A330, and the 55 year-old fly a CRJ, just so the airline saves a little money?

The seniority is bad because once a pilot gets hired at an airline, he officially is married to that airline. They don't want to start all over again.

Quoting FRA2DTW (Reply 3):
I would like to see a national ALPA seniority system so when someone like TWA goes down, the pilots can integrate into other ALPA carriers. After all, pilots have very little to do with the success or failure of an airline. The current system is archaic.

The problem with this is when an airline goes into deep trouble, all the pilots would leave for airlines in a much better shape. They would do this because it wouldn't affect them in any shape.

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VHXLR8
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RE: Get Rid Of Seniority System

Thu Mar 17, 2005 3:56 pm

Actually, at Qantas, promotions are done on the basis of merit, not seniority. A flight attendant can apply for a CSM position if they wish (when positions are available), and the selection process is a merit based system.
This of course hasn't always been the way, and you can always tell the CSMs that hail from the days of seniority based promotions!
 
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RE: Get Rid Of Seniority System

Thu Mar 17, 2005 4:41 pm

Quoting SonOfACaptain (Reply 13):
Would it be right to have a 25 year-old pilot fly the A330, and the 55 year-old fly a CRJ, just so the airline saves a little money?

I don't see any problem with that. I would say it is rather simplistic to say it would only happen to enable an operator to save money. If the 25 YO had the experience and hours to qualify for such a Captaincy then good luck to him - its called life. It it right that he should be held back while he waits for someone to die and create a promotion? Why should Pilots be mollycoddled?
 
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Starlionblue
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RE: Get Rid Of Seniority System

Thu Mar 17, 2005 4:54 pm

Quoting Revelation (Reply 11):
In my non-aviation, high-tech career, I would have found a seniority system to be a huge negative. You only learn so much working with the same people in the same system. After a while, it's time to move on. While the present employer doesn't necessarily agree it's a good idea, in the long run it is. If there were a seniority system there'd be such a penalty in moving, no one would do it once they had a year or two invested in a company, and we'd all rot in place. Seniority leads to a very stagnant workforce.

I agree, and I also think the seniority system is one of the reasons US legacy carriers are in so much trouble. As has been said by several, seniority simply leads to many sitting on their jobs and thinking about seniority instead of performance. To paraphrase what as B747Skipper once said: "When I worked for Pan Am, I spent my spare time in the cockpit reading seniority tables. Now I read the paper." He was so happy to be spared the seniority thing at Aerolineas.

One way of resolving the issue would be to do the Microsoft thing (also used by many others) where every employee is rated by everyone else they have "touched", while that employee's manager retains the greatest say. By spreading the feedback out among so many ensures politicking is kept to a minimum. Employees rated highest in the relevant disciplines (safety, adherence to procedures, CRM, customer service, language skills for international pilots and F/As, etc...) would gain an advantage in the promotion ladder.

Promote those most competent and hard working, not those who have worked the longest. The correlation between the two is by no means a given!

Quoting SonOfACaptain (Reply 13):
The seniority system is very important in the sense that it protects the pilots form unfair play. Would it be right to have a 25 year-old pilot fly the A330, and the 55 year-old fly a CRJ, just so the airline saves a little money?

Of course. What's the problem with that? Is flying the CRJ less important? At SAS many very senior pilots choose to step away from long haul and fly intra Europe so they can be home more.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
RAMPRAT980
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RE: Get Rid Of Seniority System

Thu Mar 17, 2005 10:58 pm

I think the seniority system is the best system. Would it be fair to get rid of a dedicated and hard working employee who has seniority instead of one who is lazy and kisses the bosses rear end constantly and has less seniority
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SWAFA30
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RE: Get Rid Of Seniority System

Thu Mar 17, 2005 11:40 pm

I think what some who would advocate doing away with seniority fail to fully appreciate are the logistics of airline staffing.

Since I can only speak from my perspective, let's look at how doing away with seniority(or the lack thereof) would impact my Flight Attendant crew base.

There are approximately 1220 crewmembers in my base. Every month, our schedules change as our pairings are altered to reflect how aircraft flow through the system. For the month of April, there were nearly 300 different lines....without seniority how do you decide who gets which schedule?

For the month of April, crew planning decided that to maintain the integrity of the operation BWI needed 323 reserve Flight Attendants. The reserves must surrender control of their lives to the company 4 days a week...meanwhile the lineholders know where they are going, how long they will be there and when they are coming back. How do you decide which 323 of BWI's 1220 F/As are going to get stuck with reserve?

At SWA we earn 2 weeks vacation after 1 year, 3 weeks after 5 years, 4 weeks after 10 years and I believe 5 weeks after 20 years. In BWI with Flight Attendants at each of the above mentioned levels of service, there are literally thousands of weeks of earned vacation to be taken in 2005. To keep the base running smoothly, only so many vacation slots can be awarded per week and per month....who gets the choice Christmas and Thanksgiving vacation slots?


A cabin crew is inbound to BWI and the pilots get a message from Ops to have the Flight Attendants call scheduling on arrival....The stews were supposed to be done for the week on arrival at BWI but, Crew Sked needs to assign additional flying to one person. The voluntary overtime list has been exhausted...which Flight Attendant gets the mandatory OT?

Recruiting, hiring, and training crewmembers is expensive. While senior employees can be pricey....so can constant turnover. The seniority system could be compared to the Frequent Flyer programs that keep airline Customers beholden to a given carrier.
 
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Revelation
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RE: Get Rid Of Seniority System

Fri Mar 18, 2005 1:50 am

Quoting SonOfACaptain (Reply 13):
The seniority system is very important in the sense that it protects the pilots form unfair play. Would it be right to have a 25 year-old pilot fly the A330, and the 55 year-old fly a CRJ, just so the airline saves a little money?

The best pilot should be flying the plane. In many cases, that would be a more senior pilot, but as many of us see in our day-to-day lives, the senior people can start to loose motivation at some point, and their performance then drops off. The seniority system has no way of weeding these people out.

Quoting SonOfACaptain (Reply 13):
The problem with this is when an airline goes into deep trouble, all the pilots would leave for airlines in a much better shape. They would do this because it wouldn't affect them in any shape.

So, what you are saying, is the healthier airlines would attract the most talented and motivated employees, and the less healthy airlines would degrade and presumably would die off. This is how capitalism is supposed to work, no?

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 16):
One way of resolving the issue would be to do the Microsoft thing (also used by many others) where every employee is rated by everyone else they have "touched", while that employee's manager retains the greatest say. By spreading the feedback out among so many ensures politicking is kept to a minimum. Employees rated highest in the relevant disciplines (safety, adherence to procedures, CRM, customer service, language skills for international pilots and F/As, etc...) would gain an advantage in the promotion ladder.

Sounds like a really good system. My company does keep a ranking of employees, but from what I can tell it's all done by managers.

Quoting RAMPRAT980 (Reply 17):
I think the seniority system is the best system. Would it be fair to get rid of a dedicated and hard working employee who has seniority instead of one who is lazy and kisses the bosses rear end constantly and has less seniority

That's one of the possible outcomes, but keep in mind the bosses are rated too, and if they promote ass kissers then their ratings will fall and they'll be in trouble too. On the other hand, the seniority system does not weed out senior people whose performance drops off.

Quoting SWAFA30 (Reply 18):
without seniority how do you decide who gets which schedule?

You'd still be ranked, but it would not be done solely by how long you've been with the company.

Quoting SWAFA30 (Reply 18):
At SWA we earn 2 weeks vacation after 1 year, 3 weeks after 5 years, 4 weeks after 10 years and I believe 5 weeks after 20 years

In my company, everyone gets the same amount of vacation time, from the CEO to the new hire. It's fairly generous by US standards. While you can say that it doesn't give an incentive to stay, that really isn't a problem for highly motivated individuals (most of us don't end up taking the vacation anyway!), and it does give people a good incentive to join our company, and it does help get rid of the sense of entitlement that senior people seem to get.

Quoting SWAFA30 (Reply 18):
Recruiting, hiring, and training crewmembers is expensive. While senior employees can be pricey....so can constant turnover.

Seniority systems do not weed out senior people who loose their motivation. Motivated new hires see that in action pretty quickly, and decide to move on, and so the source of motivated future senior people is cut off, and you end up with a bunch of people whose main motivation is to acquire more seniority as opposed to working harder and acquiring a better skill set. That's a pretty poor situation if you ask me.
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kith
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RE: Get Rid Of Seniority System

Fri Mar 18, 2005 1:52 am

SWAFA30 thanks for that post, it really gives a good insight into the seniority system. I think that a modified version of the seniority system might work. Once you are working for the company for a year or two, you generally stay as long as the pay/work environment hasn't drastically changed, FF programs and jobs are like apples and Boeings. If I am exec plat w/ AA and they start taking away pillows, losing my bags consistantly, I'd leave AA and fly another comprable airline, even if I lost my status, if I'm that high status anyways I'd gain it back within a year, not so with a job/seniority in an airline.
-Keep intra company seniority for the many reasons you listed above but if one has the experience with airline XXX and airline XXX needs many concessions from the employees, why not be able to go to airline YYY with somewhat comparable pay and since you have the experience in flying say, 777's, fly their 777's (if they have them). I would think it would be cheaper then re training the employee from a 777 to a 737. -Matt in KITH
 
SWAFA30
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RE: Get Rid Of Seniority System

Fri Mar 18, 2005 2:50 am

Quoting Revelation (Reply 19):
You'd still be ranked, but it would not be done solely by how long you've been with the company.

How exactly do you propose to rank the nearly 8,000 Flight Attendants at Southwest Airlines alone? What is the basis for the rankings? Customer Satisfaction? How do you gauge it? Fewest Customer complaints? Most Customer Compliments? What happens when 50 people in the same base have the exact same number of Complaints and Compliments? In an airline environment especially, when you have this many people doing the exact same job....something has to act as a tiebreaker.

Quoting Revelation (Reply 19):
In my company, everyone gets the same amount of vacation time, from the CEO to the new hire. It's fairly generous by US standards. While you can say that it doesn't give an incentive to stay, that really isn't a problem for highly motivated individuals (most of us don't end up taking the vacation anyway!), and it does give people a good incentive to join our company, and it does help get rid of the sense of entitlement that senior people seem to get.

The point of my statement was not about how much vacation we get but rather, to point out the logistical nightmare of trying to assign thousands of vacation weeks around the constraints of a 24/7/365 like an airline without a deciding factor such as seniority.

Quoting Revelation (Reply 19):
Seniority systems do not weed out senior people who loose their motivation. Motivated new hires see that in action pretty quickly, and decide to move on, and so the source of motivated future senior people is cut off, and you end up with a bunch of people whose main motivation is to acquire more seniority as opposed to working harder and acquiring a better skill set. That's a pretty poor situation if you ask me.

Which is why it is so important to hire the right people in the first place whether you are hiring for a position that is merit-based or tenured.

It is important also to point out that there is a difference between simply gaining seniority and being promoted. Should I decide I would like to move into management, I cannot do so simply by nature of seniority. I have to apply, interview and earn the job based on my talents, skills, and merits. I choose to look at it this way. My seniority number and whatever status comes with it by nature of my longevity can indeed act a motivation to put my best foot forward on the job. Even though I'm a union member, I can be let go and the thought of climbing another seniority list is not something I relish.

Quoting KITH (Reply 20):
-Keep intra company seniority for the many reasons you listed above but if one has the experience with airline XXX and airline XXX needs many concessions from the employees, why not be able to go to airline YYY with somewhat comparable pay and since you have the experience in flying say, 777's, fly their 777's (if they have them). I would think it would be cheaper then re training the employee from a 777 to a 737. -Matt in KITH

The problem is $$$. Airlines pay their pilots based on the size of aircraft they operate. The pilot at airline YYY who has been paitently putting in his time on the 737 waiting to move up to the "big iron" with the payraise that comes along with it is going to get real cranky when the pilot from XXX comes along and take the coveted F/O or CA on the 777. The company might save money but morale would be destroyed in the process.
 
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RE: Get Rid Of Seniority System

Fri Mar 18, 2005 2:59 am

Some other places do a pay raise when you can perform the work well. One FBO I had applied for a job said that they raise your pay by the quality of the work you do. But I think it varies with what occupation it is and the type of company it is also.
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Starlionblue
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RE: Get Rid Of Seniority System

Fri Mar 18, 2005 3:04 am

Quoting RAMPRAT980 (Reply 17):
I think the seniority system is the best system. Would it be fair to get rid of a dedicated and hard working employee who has seniority instead of one who is lazy and kisses the bosses rear end constantly and has less seniority

Well I think the point of my comment was that employees would be ranked by their bosses AND their peers. That way the politicking can be kept to a minimum. Also, I do think there is a role for length of service in the rating mix, just not as the largest factor.

Quoting SWAFA30 (Reply 21):
Quoting Revelation (Reply 19):
You'd still be ranked, but it would not be done solely by how long you've been with the company.

How exactly do you propose to rank the nearly 8,000 Flight Attendants at Southwest Airlines alone? What is the basis for the rankings? Customer Satisfaction? How do you gauge it? Fewest Customer complaints? Most Customer Compliments? What happens when 50 people in the same base have the exact same number of Complaints and Compliments? In an airline environment especially, when you have this many people doing the exact same job....something has to act as a tiebreaker.

The supervisors etc will act as tiebreakers. That's why they pay them the big bucks.

Rankings would be by peer review. For pilots instructor ratings would be included.


Let's face it, there is no way to make a perfect system. I just think that seniority stifles many talented young people or people who have worked 20 years then had to change horses, while promoting those who are best at staying in their seat, regardless of whether they are good or not.

Don't misunderstand me, there are plenty of brilliant 30 year employees and plenty of crappy 3 year ones, but a peer based review would manage to weed those out regardless of length of service.


Example: What if airline A boss wants to hire brilliant customer service supervisor from airline B, because she thinks he could really develop the operation in a certain area, and help the airline do better? This would not be possible due to seniority.


Succesful companies become that way in large part because motivated employees work hard and well. This is by no means a function of length of service. Succesful companies promote on MERIT, not length of service.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
CALMSP
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RE: Get Rid Of Seniority System

Fri Mar 18, 2005 3:08 am

i would love to see this abolished for agents.....you could be the laziest, worst, slowest, etc. etc. and still get pay raises becuase of your tenure. nothing is based on performance for an agent.
 
Planesmart
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RE: Get Rid Of Seniority System

Fri Mar 18, 2005 3:58 am

The fixation on seniority = length of service is out-dated. It's a 'cover' for not using other ways of assessing people performance, and rewarding accordingly.

Seniority = less flexibility for the airline, and the individual, because an experienced staff switching airlines are not employed on merit.

Remember, an older pilot isn't necessarily a better pilot.

Is this another reason why US-based airlines are under-performing the rest of the World?
 
CALMSP
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RE: Get Rid Of Seniority System

Fri Mar 18, 2005 4:08 am

i bet we could cut half of hte top out agents in IAH!! THERE are many who sit around and will do as little as possible to help others. the ones that you may find helping more are the bottom feeders.
 
SWAFA30
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RE: Get Rid Of Seniority System

Fri Mar 18, 2005 4:09 am

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 23):
The supervisors etc will act as tiebreakers. That's why they pay them the big bucks.

Supervisors often make less than line crewmembers because their hours are limited but that's besides the point. I still think the logistics of what we're dealing with here are failing to sink in. Let's once again look at the parts of a Flight Attendant's job that are impacted by seniority.

Lineholder Schedules(incl. postion worked onboard)
Reserve Schedules
Vacancy Bids(Crew Base Assignments)
Annual Recurrent Training
Vacation

Based on the way an airline operates, Vacancy bids, Lineholder and Reserve Schedules are extremely fluid changing a minimum of once a month. If merit is to be taken into account, it must be constantly evaluated. So, every month you have to compile the data on all 8,000 Flight Attendants systemwide to assess each crewmember's performance so that you have a master list on which to base bidding decisions. Based on that information you begin closing your Vacancy bids and deciding who is going to be based where for the next month. Say for instance MCO has opening and a BWI based F/A wants to transfer...she wants the opening but so do 23 other Flight Attendants from around the system who have the same "Quality Assurance Ranking"...we need to get their sups involved to break the tie but they are located in bases throughout the system...you set up a 6 way(OAK, BWI, HOU, DAL, MDW, PHX) conference call so the sups can pull each F/A's file and they can finally decide, who gets the opening in MCO. One transfer down, several hundred left to go...it's going to be a long day(s). Using seniority a computer can accomplish this task in a matter of minutes.

Moving on to lineholder bids. Again using BWI as an example, 296 lines to be covered for April...3 postions per line...so 888 individual decisions need to be made to cover the schedules for the month. Line #1 is all turn arounds...no overnights...very desirable.....17 people in BWI have the same "rank" and they all want that line that is only available in 3 positions. Time for the sups to step in and break the tie. Files are pulled, discussion goes on and it finally decided who of the 17 will be the 1st to get the coveted line. 800 some odd pow-wows later the supervisors have finally closed the lineholder bids for the month. Great! Except now the process begins again for Reserve lines.

And so it goes for Vacation and Recurrent training and mandatory overtime and on and on and on. I understand how distasteful making decisions based on seniority is to some but in an environment as dynamic as airline it is the most efficient and equitable...not necessarily fair but, equitable way to manage personnel.

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 23):
Rankings would be by peer review. For pilots instructor ratings would be included.

By definition peers would be other Flight Attendants? The potential for abuse would be overwhelming.
 
incitatus
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RE: Get Rid Of Seniority System

Fri Mar 18, 2005 4:19 am

Quoting FRA2DTW (Reply 3):
I would like to see a national ALPA seniority system so when someone like TWA goes down, the pilots can integrate into other ALPA carriers. After all, pilots have very little to do with the success or failure of an airline. The current system is archaic.

Notice that the current system also benefits the airlines and a single ALPA seniority system would be damaging to the airlines. Airlines tolerate the seniority system because they benefit from it through stability. They are willing to invest heavily in pilot training. They have an assurance that a senior pilot just qualified to fly a 777 is not going to jump ship from Delta Airlines to Alpha Airlines just because Alpha is offering 10% higher salary.

Here is where I think the current system is wrong. The differences across the payscales are huge. Senior pilots dominate the union and have been able to tilt the scales towards their pockets. The job of flying an ERJ at Comair is not substantially different from flying a 777 at Delta. The ERJ may be even more challenging and stressful because of multiple take-offs and landings in a day. The 12-year 777 captain makes $216/hour while the 12-year CRJ captain makes $84/hour. That difference shouldn't be a multiple, it should be something like 25%.
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MaverickM11
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RE: Get Rid Of Seniority System

Fri Mar 18, 2005 4:27 am

"Airlines tolerate the seniority system because they benefit from it through stability"

Airlines do NOT benefit from the seniority system.
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Starlionblue
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RE: Get Rid Of Seniority System

Fri Mar 18, 2005 6:33 am

Quoting SWAFA30 (Reply 27):
I still think the logistics of what we're dealing with here are failing to sink in.

Many large corporations such as UBS and Microsoft have peer reviewing. There are computer systems to handle the logistics.

Quoting SWAFA30 (Reply 27):
So, every month you have to compile the data on all 8,000 Flight Attendants systemwide to assess each crewmember's performance so that you have a master list on which to base bidding decisions

Who says it has to be every month? Just make it quarterly or semestrally.

Quoting SWAFA30 (Reply 27):
.you set up a 6 way(OAK, BWI, HOU, DAL, MDW, PHX) conference call so the sups can pull each F/A's file and they can finally decide, who gets the opening in MCO. One transfer down, several hundred left to go...it's going to be a long day(s). Using seniority a computer can accomplish this task in a matter of minutes.

And that's why you should use a computers system for help and not a conference call. Decisions by committee are seldom very efficient.

Quoting SWAFA30 (Reply 27):
Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 23):
Rankings would be by peer review. For pilots instructor ratings would be included.

By definition peers would be other Flight Attendants? The potential for abuse would be overwhelming.

Make it anonymous on penalty of termination. Ensure that as many flight attendants as possible rate other F/As. Buying 5 votes is one thing. Buying 100 is something else.



I will agree with you that the logistics are daunting. But is that really an excuse to keep the current unfair system?
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RE: Get Rid Of Seniority System

Fri Mar 18, 2005 6:47 am

I will agree with you that the logistics are daunting. But is that really an excuse to keep the current unfair system?


No, the "excuse" is the fact that people currently working for various airlines have made various life-altering choices based on the current rules in place, including the seniority system.

It would be unfair to modify the rules of the game on them mid-stream when they've already set their course in life based on these existing rules.

If you start a wholly new air carrier, then you can have a system where seniority is irrelevant - but for those who currently have an existing seniority system that shifts, days off and even pay is based on, you'd have one helluva large class-action suit on your hands if you attempted to change things without consent of each employee - and it's neither right nor wrong - it just IS.

[Edited 2005-03-17 22:49:17]
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Lemurs
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RE: Get Rid Of Seniority System

Fri Mar 18, 2005 6:48 am

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 30):
Many large corporations such as UBS and Microsoft have peer reviewing. There are computer systems to handle the logistics.

Actually, Microsoft does a system of self-reviewing, with management using those self-reviews to rank you among your peers. I don't think that system would be transferable to the airline industry, because most employees don't have the exposure to their peers to do this in a way that would be anything other than boilerplate and platitudes.

In a company like Microsoft, there are at most a few hundred people doing the same job. In an airlines it's thousands upon thousands.
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RE: Get Rid Of Seniority System

Fri Mar 18, 2005 6:52 am

How does a pilot show results?
How is that gauged against others when bidding a line?
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RE: Get Rid Of Seniority System

Fri Mar 18, 2005 7:04 am

The seniority is bad because once a pilot gets hired at an airline, he officially is married to that airline. They don't want to start all over again.


While that's a negative, it's still the rule - and you go into any new job knowing the rules up-front.

For example, various employees at TW knew - in some cases DECADES ago - that their airline was not long for this world. They elected to leave and start over, at the bottom, at new carriers - many with AA.

So they forfeit their seniority and start anew, building seniority over time. In the meantime, their counterparts at TW elected to stand-pat, hoping that things would work out.

Of course they didn't, and TW's assets were purchased by AA - but their employees were lucky in that AA offered them all jobs, for the most part.

But would it have been "fair" to give those TW people their old seniority at AA? Not on your life, especially considering they'd be leapfrogging over people who once took the seniority hit and left TW for greener pastures at AA.

Once you have a structure like this where people have made life-long decisions based on a set of rules, you cannot change the rules on them mid-stream.
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RE: Get Rid Of Seniority System

Fri Mar 18, 2005 7:36 am

Seems like others have described how peer ranking works so I'll skip over that.

Quoting EA CO AS (Reply 31):
No, the "excuse" is the fact that people currently working for various airlines have made various life-altering choices based on the current rules in place, including the seniority system.

It would be unfair to modify the rules of the game on them mid-stream when they've already set their course in life based on these existing rules.

Well, as Clint Eastwood said in Unforgiven, "Deserve has nothing to do with it". You could say it's "unfair" that US high-tech workers are having the work they are custom to doing sent off shore. But it happens because in capitalism, there's no hiding from the realities of economics. And I predict the economic reality of the unproductive seniority system will catch up with it at some point in time.

Quoting EA CO AS (Reply 31):
If you start a wholly new air carrier, then you can have a system where seniority is irrelevant - but for those who currently have an existing seniority system that shifts, days off and even pay is based on, you'd have one helluva large class-action suit on your hands if you attempted to change things without consent of each employee - and it's neither right nor wrong - it just IS.

Or the airlines with unproductive systems will go bankrupt because their competitors provide a better product.

I also imagine at some time in the future, the protected nature of the airline business will change, and we'll see more direct competition from airlines from other nations within the US.
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RE: Get Rid Of Seniority System

Fri Mar 18, 2005 7:55 am

It seems as though most of the posters against the seniority based system do not work in the industry. Seniority is the only fair way to handle things. There are too many hookups with the current system. Also what criteria will be used to evaluate employees? It is just too subjective. If the logistics could be ironed out, an industry-wide seniority system would be ideal. Personally I think mechanics should be all under one union contract and be placed at jobs by their local, similar to other trade unions like the carpenters, electricians, laborers, etc.
 
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RE: Get Rid Of Seniority System

Fri Mar 18, 2005 8:07 am

Quoting Wbmech (Reply 36):
It seems as though most of the posters against the seniority based system do not work in the industry. Seniority is the only fair way to handle things. There are too many hookups with the current system. Also what criteria will be used to evaluate employees? It is just too subjective. If the logistics could be ironed out, an industry-wide seniority system would be ideal. Personally I think mechanics should be all under one union contract and be placed at jobs by their local, similar to other trade unions like the carpenters, electricians, laborers, etc.

That was one of the things I was trying to drive at earlier in the thread. I come from a very performance based, competitive field, and I acknowledge that while it works great in some areas, it's doomed to cause problems in others. You cannot make every peg fit into round hole, and the airline industry is a very, very, square peg.
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RE: Get Rid Of Seniority System

Fri Mar 18, 2005 8:19 am

Quoting Lemurs (Reply 32):
Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 30):
Many large corporations such as UBS and Microsoft have peer reviewing. There are computer systems to handle the logistics.

Actually, Microsoft does a system of self-reviewing, with management using those self-reviews to rank you among your peers. I don't think that system would be transferable to the airline industry, because most employees don't have the exposure to their peers to do this in a way that would be anything other than boilerplate and platitudes.

In a company like Microsoft, there are at most a few hundred people doing the same job. In an airlines it's thousands upon thousands.

Indeed. As I said the logistics are daunting.

Quoting M404 (Reply 33):
How does a pilot show results?
How is that gauged against others when bidding a line?

Peer review. Other pilots he flies with, his boss and instructor pilots in the sim and the line gauge his performance in the cockpit according to various criteria like safety, company procedures, CRM and so on.

Quoting EA CO AS (Reply 31):
It would be unfair to modify the rules of the game on them mid-stream when they've already set their course in life based on these existing rules.

I agree completely. I'm not saying it can change overnight. But as several posters have pointed out, it's change or die for these companies. A gradual change over a long time is the only way forward if companies want to do it voluntarily. It's either that or get it forced down their throats when they go bankrupt (again, and again, and again).

Quoting Wbmech (Reply 36):
Seniority is the only fair way to handle things.

Then why do so many industries work fine without seniority systems, or at least such extreme ones?

Quoting Wbmech (Reply 36):
Also what criteria will be used to evaluate employees? It is just too subjective

Any review is partly subjective. But saying that a pilot or F/A has more merit simply because he or she has a longer time in the job is equally subjective.

Quoting Wbmech (Reply 36):
If the logistics could be ironed out, an industry-wide seniority system would be ideal

That's even worse! Now you're really ossifying things. Great for slackers.
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SonOfACaptain
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RE: Get Rid Of Seniority System

Fri Mar 18, 2005 8:27 am

Quoting VC-10 (Reply 15):
I don't see any problem with that. I would say it is rather simplistic to say it would only happen to enable an operator to save money. If the 25 YO had the experience and hours to qualify for such a Captaincy then good luck to him - its called life. It it right that he should be held back while he waits for someone to die and create a promotion? Why should Pilots be mollycoddled?

How would you like to be 55, and only making $30,000 a year? Because that is what would happen. I don't want any pilot to go through what my dad has gone through.

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 16):
Of course. What's the problem with that? Is flying the CRJ less important?

The CRJ isn't less important, but the pay is.

Quoting Revelation (Reply 19):
So, what you are saying, is the healthier airlines would attract the most talented and motivated employees, and the less healthy airlines would degrade and presumably would die off. This is how capitalism is supposed to work, no?

No, what I am saying is that the sick airline would be screwed, and the young pilots at the heathly airline would be screwed.

Quoting Revelation (Reply 19):
The best pilot should be flying the plane.

That would be the best way, but it is impossible for an airline to do this. Just use common sense. The world only operates efficiently if everybody is on the same page and there is a uniform system.


People, use common sense. Of course, most of you don't know how the seniority system for pilots work, so you can't really make logical answers. Airlines NEED a seniority system. I bet a lot of you have one at your work. How would you feel if a 25 year-old unexperence worker replaces you, how has worked at a company for 20 years?

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RE: Get Rid Of Seniority System

Fri Mar 18, 2005 8:37 am

Quoting SonOfACaptain (Reply 39):
Airlines NEED a seniority system. I bet a lot of you have one at your work. How would you feel if a 25 year-old unexperence worker replaces you, how has worked at a company for 20 years?

I'm not disagreeing with you. Well, maybe a little  Wink. I think that US carriers have taken the concept of seniority way too far. Of course length of service should count, but it makes no sense for it to be the only factor. If the junior worker is really good and dedicated, and the senior worker is lazy and uncaring, how does it make sense to keep the senior one.

If a pilot, for example, has worked 30 years for the airline, he should have nothing much to fear unless he is slacking off and not performing to standards. So seniority would be a factor (experience counts), but it would not be the ONLY factor.
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RE: Get Rid Of Seniority System

Fri Mar 18, 2005 8:41 am

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 40):
Of course length of service should count, but it makes no sense for it to be the only factor. If the junior worker is really good and dedicated, and the senior worker is lazy and uncaring, how does it make sense to keep the senior one.

Yeah, that would be the ideal situation, however, for a major carrier like AA or UA, that would be impossible to do. There are way too many pilots to keep in check.

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RE: Get Rid Of Seniority System

Fri Mar 18, 2005 8:52 am

Quoting SonOfACaptain (Reply 41):
Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 40):
Of course length of service should count, but it makes no sense for it to be the only factor. If the junior worker is really good and dedicated, and the senior worker is lazy and uncaring, how does it make sense to keep the senior one.

Yeah, that would be the ideal situation, however, for a major carrier like AA or UA, that would be impossible to do. There are way too many pilots to keep in check.

Impossible is a word I don't like  Wink All these pilots have a boss right? And they fly with other pilots right? So how is peer and manager review impossible?

Look at driver's license tests. While different testers may vary slightly in their criteria and strictness, it's not as if the testing methodology is inconsistent, despite the fact that the various testers don't compare notes every day, or even meet. This is because they have clear common guidelines to follow.

In the same way, clear and common review guidelines can be used. Heck, let the chief pilots write the guidelines themselves. My point is that a consistent review methodology across a large group of individuals is quite achievable.
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RE: Get Rid Of Seniority System

Fri Mar 18, 2005 9:04 am

Quoting SonOfACaptain (Reply 13):
The seniority system is very important in the sense that it protects the pilots form unfair play. Would it be right to have a 25 year-old pilot fly the A330, and the 55 year-old fly a CRJ, just so the airline saves a little money?

Actually, I find the current seniority system to promote a certain backward concept.

The highest risk portions of flight are takeoff and landing. So what do we do? Do we put our most experienced pilots in a place where their experience can be brought to bear the most? You know, short flights, with lots of takeoffs and landings? Nope. We stick them in the big birds. They shove the throttles, pull it off the ground -- and then watch the computer for the next six to twelve hours.

No, it's the young guys that go on the highest cycle jobs. The ones with the least experience.

Of course, I'm being mostly facetious, because I don't believe at all that air travel is unsafe at all. The statistics show that there is little difference in my chances of a crash with a rookie or a grizzled veteran at the controls.

Still, it makes one wonder...
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RE: Get Rid Of Seniority System

Fri Mar 18, 2005 9:17 am

Quoting ContnlEliteCMH (Reply 43):

Actually, I find the current seniority system to promote a certain backward concept.

The highest risk portions of flight are takeoff and landing. So what do we do? Do we put our most experienced pilots in a place where their experience can be brought to bear the most? You know, short flights, with lots of takeoffs and landings? Nope. We stick them in the big birds. They shove the throttles, pull it off the ground -- and then watch the computer for the next six to twelve hours.

No, it's the young guys that go on the highest cycle jobs. The ones with the least experience.

Of course, I'm being mostly facetious, because I don't believe at all that air travel is unsafe at all. The statistics show that there is little difference in my chances of a crash with a rookie or a grizzled veteran at the controls.

Still, it makes one wonder...

Hear hear!!! Of course, this is much more apparent in North America, where pilots on big birds get paid more.

At SAS and most Euroairlines, senior pilots get paid more dependent on their years of service, not dependent on the metal they fly. So you will find many of the most senior flying intraEurope. They can be home a lot and fly the bird they really like, in the SAS case the MD-80.

There is one distinction though. The props are in SAS Commuter, which has lower pay.

Regardless of the seniority discussion, the practice of paying more for heavier planes is, as ContnlEliteCMH points out, rather backward. Let the senior pilots fly whatever they want, and pay them more or less according to their years of service. After all, an MD-80 isn't, in any sense that matters, less responsibility than a 380.


And before you flame me for the "pay them according to their years of service point", I see this as a separate discussion compared to seniority. Seniority is about encouraging employees to sit in their seat as long as possible. Pay is a related but different discussion.
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RE: Get Rid Of Seniority System

Fri Mar 18, 2005 9:22 am

Quoting SonOfACaptain (Reply 39):
How would you like to be 55, and only making $30,000 a year? Because that is what would happen. I don't want any pilot to go through what my dad has gone through.

It's not about what we'd all like, it's about reality. As someone closer to your father's age than yours, I do wonder if I'll be earning a lot less than I do now when I'm your father's age, primarily due to changes in the way my business operates (namely, offshoring). As much as I may not like it, I may have to take a lot less money at some point in the future, or change careers.

Capitalism is relentless, and no artificial protectionism will stand up forever.

Quoting SonOfACaptain (Reply 39):
The world only operates efficiently if everybody is on the same page and there is a uniform system.

Pretty idealistic. The reality is that pilots are not uniform. I fly for recreation, and although we all meet the same minimum standard (i.e. we all passed at least the PPL), it's clear as night and day that some pilots are better than others. From what I've been told, it's the same in airline flying. And some times there are exceptional young pilots, and other times there's exceptional old pilots. One of the best pilots at my airport is 75 years old. I'd fly with him any time, but I do always ask him first if he remembered to take his heart medicine  Smile

Quoting SonOfACaptain (Reply 39):
How would you feel if a 25 year-old unexperence worker replaces you, how has worked at a company for 20 years?

If the worker did as good a job as I did, then I would just have to deal with it. But there's a lot of benefits that older, experienced workers bring to the table too.

It's the competition from younger workers that helps keep me sharp. I'm not entitled to keep my position. I have to stay sharp or I will be replaced by a younger, cheaper worker.

Seniority systems remove a lot of this motivation, and I feel in the long run they will disappear because merit-based systems are more efficient.
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ozglobal
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RE: Get Rid Of Seniority System

Fri Mar 18, 2005 9:23 am

Quoting VHXLR8 (Reply 14):
Actually, at Qantas, promotions are done on the basis of merit, not seniority. A flight attendant can apply for a CSM position if they wish (when positions are available), and the selection process is a merit based system.
This of course hasn't always been the way, and you can always tell the CSMs that hail from the days of seniority based promotions!

Very true. When I've been lucky enough to travel in First on QF LHR-MEL-LHR the F/A's have been YOUNG (under 26) and outstanding. This could only be the result of a merit system. Asian carriers are similar. A seniority system leads to USSR style work ethic.
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NWrr
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RE: Get Rid Of Seniority System

Fri Mar 18, 2005 9:34 am

There are times when seniority systems have their benefits, and then there are times where they don't. In my case, I was a, in my opinion, really good CSA for AA. My only problem - a seniority date that fell after the TW integration. When they started doing the cutbacks, guess who got the axe first? Yep. I did. What was seemingly less fair about it was that I (again, in my opinion) did a much better job than quite a few of my senior co-workers, but that doesn't matter much. I guess in cases like that, the one thing it does do is take any sort of 'favoritism' out of the equation. Almost all of the managers loved me and wanted to keep me, but the seniority system prevented that. It's okay though. From what I understand, that work environment went downhill very quickly after I left, so maybe it was a blessing in disguise?

I agree that at this point, it would be nearly impossible to ditch the seniority system for something else. That means that we, as airline employees, just have to learn how to work with it the best we can.
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RE: Get Rid Of Seniority System

Fri Mar 18, 2005 9:36 am

Quoting OzGlobal (Reply 46):
Very true. When I've been lucky enough to travel in First on QF LHR-MEL-LHR the F/A's have been YOUNG (under 26) and outstanding. This could only be the result of a merit system. Asian carriers are similar. A seniority system leads to USSR style work ethic.

I didn't want to be the first one to bring up Marxism-Leninism, but as OzGlobal says the work ethic easily goes down the toilet if incentives are not based on performance. The only reason this doesn't happen to a more in airlines with seniority is because F/As but to a greater degree pilots have been quite driven to get where they are. That's not about to change just because they don't need to be driven anymore.

Quoting VHXLR8 (Reply 14):
Actually, at Qantas, promotions are done on the basis of merit, not seniority. A flight attendant can apply for a CSM position if they wish (when positions are available), and the selection process is a merit based system.

Of course, if you have worked longer (well) your chances of getting the promotion increase. So years in service do count, but not as a merit in themselves.

So what we have here is an example of a relatively large, succesful, international and domestic full service carrier with a non seniority based system. And despite what we have heard in this thread this carrier shows no sign of imploding any time soon. My my, will wonders never cease...

[Edited 2005-03-18 01:36:38]

[Edited 2005-03-18 01:37:15]
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ozglobal
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RE: Get Rid Of Seniority System

Fri Mar 18, 2005 9:40 am

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 48):
And despite what we have heard in this thread this carrier shows no sign of imploding any time soon. My my, will wonders never cease...

It may even go some way toward explaining QF's recently announced record profits?

[Edited 2005-03-18 01:46:57]
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