Posts: 2099
Joined: Tue Sep 07, 2004 12:30 am

USA: Unions And Strikes Questions I Have

Sat May 28, 2005 10:11 pm

I've flown in the states as a CFI only, not an airline pilot, but ive written a lot of articles and stayed close to the business in college. What I don't understand is this. First off, the Unions seem very very powerful in the USA, in Turkey, the airline pilot's union is a joke, it's just something you're a member of and that's about it. But out in the states, how is it that there are so many strikes and so many upset airline pilots? Aren't there thousands of young kids that have their mouths watering everyday looking for that big airline job, that's normally 10 years away? In Turkey we only have 5000 civil pilots, and that's since the creation of the Republic back in the late 20s! My pilot number is 4952, and i just converted from FAA to JAA 3 months ago!

How is it that the Unions have become this strong agaisnt the airlines, where the airlines have a large choice of candidates? I may be totally wrong here, but from my reading of articles on here and on the thrreads, the Union seems like a serious lobby power for the pilots, but why do airines put up with their demands - as if there is no one else to fly those a/c? Perhpas the system is just something cultural in the states, im not sure!
I'd love some input!

The only time there is too much fuel onboard, is when you're on fire!
Posts: 1443
Joined: Mon Jun 18, 2001 1:29 pm

RE: USA: Unions And Strikes Questions I Have

Sat May 28, 2005 11:08 pm

My labor relations class is a bout 10 years in the past, but I'll add what I can.

The airline unions are not as powerful as it may seem. The Railway Labor Act (RLA) puts some very stringent restrictions on the unions (and companies). For instance, in order to strike, an airline union (covered by the RLA) must first attempt to negotiate a new contract (or amend the old one) in good faith, seek mediation, be released by the National Mediation Board and go through a cooling off period (30 days, if I remember correctly). This can, and has taken years.

As for the thousands of young kids looking for flying jobs; these kids may eventually work for a union carrier. If it gets out that they worked for a carrier that was under a legal strike, and it will get out, life will become very hard.

It is also illegal for an airline to fire someone for engaging in union activities, or promoting a union where none exists. Therfore, if the union is already on the property, it is just about impossible to get rid of the union.
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Joined: Fri Sep 19, 2003 3:26 pm

RE: USA: Unions And Strikes Questions I Have

Sun May 29, 2005 1:33 pm

Airlines really don't have a large choice in candidates. There aren't a ton of us out there looking to fly for a living. There are a lot on this board, but a very small percentage of people fly, let alone comercially. Air2gxs hit the nail on the head about the negotiation stuff. The RLA actually makes it very difficult to strike, which doesn't bode well for the unions. However, a work stopage in a highly specialized field like pilots would cripple any cash-strapped airline beyond recovery; bad for the airline. Ask Eastern Airlines.

Unions shouldn't really be "against" any business. They are a way of collectively voicing a work groups wants. However, many airlines' management and unions don't work well together and you see the results. It's not like this in many other industries. Because of the RLA I think the contract negotiations drag on much longer. Management knows that the pilots can't strike without following carefully orchestrated steps so things get dragged out as long as possible. They're in business to make profit. A bunch of pilots wanting better pay cuts into that profit. I think this, and the recent paycuts that union workers have taken and pensions being dropped while you have guys like Don Carty doing what he did really create a lot of animosity between the two groups when they should be working together to figure out what can be done to save their airline.

Quoting Air2gxs (Reply 1):
if the union is already on the property, it is just about impossible to get rid of the union

Tell Wal-Mart this. (the law applies to any corporation)

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