As I understand the situation, Alaska had been negotiating with its mechanics for a VERY LONG time (I think 2 yrs, but don't hold me to that number) for concessions in their contract. Insofar as notification to the workers, part of that negotiation was that if they did not come to a deal before date certain, Alaska would have no choice but to let the ground staff go and convert Seattle to contract workers (that in effect was their notification). The IAM and Management worked out a deal and it went out for vote sometime a month ago and it was announced sometime last week that the Alaska workers voted down the action. Whether or not the rank and file knew what was coming is an open question, but the union knew and as long as the union was notified, then Alaska met their obligation under Washington State law, since the union represents all matters pertaining to their working relationship with the company.
Of course, all during this time, Alaska had a Plan B ready to execute in the event the rank and file decided to vote down the agreement. When the union rank and file defeated the agreement last week, Alaska set the Plan B in motion last week, gathering the workers from other stations and getting them ready to go this morning. At the same time, they had HR
preparing the severage packages for each employee based on their seniority. When all was done, the union was notified and the employees were informed at 330am this morning not to come to work, that they had been separated from the company and that they would be meeting with company representatives within the day or two to discuss their severage packages.
The severage packages that have been announced are actually quite generous. If some of those guys have a fair amount of seniority in Seattle, some of them are going to walk away with a sizeable amount of money. Its the newer guys who take the hit, although if they have been with AS
enough time to qualify for the medical benefits, then they will receive those benefits for another year from today.
I agree that this is a sad day and that I personally hate to see people lose their jobs and have their lives disrupted this way. Unfortunately, I have been there before (more than once), and the last time, I got a decent severace package, but I had to fight for it. Not too much, The discussions were amicable and short, but still I had to work to clear a few matters which had been promised, which I could not let be dropped. Ultimately I got what I needed and did not damage my relationships doing it.
However, in the case of the Alaska workers, it would seem that they chose to leave their jobs rather than have lower pay. That was their choice. With the packages Alaska is giving them, it would seem that Alaska wll be furthering the concept of contract baggage handlng.
Good luck Alaska...I suspect you are really going to need it in the coming days and weeks. You did not do yourself any PR
David L. Lamb, fmr Area Mgr Alitalia SFO 1998-2002, fmr Regional Analyst SFO-UAL 1992-1998