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AS Mechanics Vote Down Tentative Agreement

Thu Jul 28, 2005 10:38 am

So far AS is batting a thousand...they're three for three in getting tentative agreements shot down by the membership:

Aircraft technicians reject
tentative agreement
Negotiations to continue with AMFA

July 27, 2005

The Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA) today announced that a majority of its members voted to reject a tentative agreement on a new four-year contract covering Alaska Airlines’ 700 aircraft technicians.
“While we were hoping for a different outcome, we will be heading back to the negotiating table and remain confident that we can reach an agreement which will receive the support of our aircraft technicians,” said CEO Bill Ayer.

Alaska and AMFA will be working to schedule additional negotiations.

Of the 505 aircraft technicians who cast ballots, 325 voted against the agreement. About 77 percent of eligible aircraft technicians voted.

"In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem - government IS the problem." - Ronald Reagan

Comments made here are my own and are not intended to represent the official position of Alaska Air Group
 
Lono
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RE: AS Mechanics Vote Down Tentative Agreement

Thu Jul 28, 2005 11:02 am

the storm clouds are building in Alaska's world.....
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searpqx
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RE: AS Mechanics Vote Down Tentative Agreement

Thu Jul 28, 2005 11:15 am

Wow - so the every major group has voted down an agreement. Is each group reacting to their own individual contract, or is there an element of reacting to what happened to the rampers?

Where does the COPS group stand?
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737-990
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RE: AS Mechanics Vote Down Tentative Agreement

Thu Jul 28, 2005 11:45 am

So AS is 0-3 with contract ratifications. My question is what's up with the union leadership at Alaska's unions (pilots, flight attendants and mechanics)? Are they so out of touch with the true feelings of the rank and file? Why are these unions agreeing to contracts that are then soundly rejected by large majority of the membership?

Searpqx, you might be right when you say it might be a general reaction to the recent state of the airline rather than the individual contracts. It could also be a retaliation for the OAK base closer and the contracting of heavy maintenance to third parties. Not that it's right or even rational but people have been pissed and this might be the only way they can see at getting back at management.
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PlanesNTrains
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RE: AS Mechanics Vote Down Tentative Agreement

Thu Jul 28, 2005 1:23 pm

Things have a way of healing themselves, but nonetheless, I think I'm gonna look at alternatives when I can. I have seen a lot of mechanical issues talked about (not safety problems, just reliability), and who needs that when you're traveling with kids.

We're planning a trip to SoCal from SEA in October, and I'm leaning towards UA, if for no other reason than a lot of this crap is behind them. Tie will tell.

-Dave
-Dave
 
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RE: AS Mechanics Vote Down Tentative Agreement

Thu Jul 28, 2005 1:25 pm

Quoting PlanesNTrains (Reply 4):
We're planning a trip to SoCal from SEA in October, and I'm leaning towards UA, if for no other reason than a lot of this crap is behind them. Tie will tell.

Thanks for considering UA! I would advise going direct to LAX, as opposed to transferring in SFO, as the weather there can be a real wild card.
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RE: AS Mechanics Vote Down Tentative Agreement

Thu Jul 28, 2005 1:51 pm

Quoting StevenUhl777 (Reply 5):
Thanks for considering UA! I would advise going direct to LAX, as opposed to transferring in SFO, as the weather there can be a real wild card.

With the kids, I only go nonstop. Even now that they are 9 and 6, there is still a LOT of stuff they want to bring onboard. Not to mention that my wife seems to think that we can do a 5 day vacation with carry-ons! After reading employee horror stories on here, I'm too embarrassed to even try  Smile. (The one exception was QX SEA-LGB a while back - taking our roller bags to the plane and having them tossed in the belly was great - made her stop bitc - er, complaining about the "little plane" we were getting on. LOL.)

-Dave
-Dave
 
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RE: AS Mechanics Vote Down Tentative Agreement

Thu Jul 28, 2005 2:21 pm

Quoting Searpqx (Reply 2):
Where does the COPS group stand?

The COPS negotiations are actually taking place this week. On their initial talks with management, the comprehensive offer to the union involved wage freezes*, no increases for three years, plus huge increases in healthcare costs and allowing management the unlimited ability to do contract work.

The union isn't going for the jugular and asking for the moon, but simply sticking by the company's "industry average" wage pledge - most of the COPS group is under the industry average right now.

Quoting PlanesNTrains (Reply 4):
We're planning a trip to SoCal from SEA in October, and I'm leaning towards UA, if for no other reason than a lot of this crap is behind them.

FWIW, all the operational hiccups appear to be in the past. The recent schedule realignment has created numerous operational spares that ensure that AS will have a far more reliable operation than over the past six to eight weeks.
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searpqx
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RE: AS Mechanics Vote Down Tentative Agreement

Thu Jul 28, 2005 3:13 pm

Quoting EA CO AS (Reply 7):
The union isn't going for the jugular and asking for the moon

I've never been a fan of unions, but I have to admit, through all this, it doesn't appear that any of the unions have been over the top. I know there is always more to the story, but from the outside at least, AS management appears to have made a sharp U turn from trying to protect it's employees from the effects of 9/11, to their current race to the bottom of employee moral. I really hope some labor peace returns soon.

Duane
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RE: AS Mechanics Vote Down Tentative Agreement

Thu Jul 28, 2005 9:41 pm

Quoting Searpqx (Reply 8):
AS management appears to have made a sharp U turn from trying to protect it's employees from the effects of 9/11, to their current race to the bottom of employee moral. I really hope some labor peace returns soon.

I agree 100 % AS management is way out of touch with what they are doing to the front line employees. I for one am in favor of a change of guard over at AS. I believe that selecting a new CEO and top brass is the ONLY way AS will begin to repair there damage rep.

Basic fact is employees do not trust AS management, nothing short of leaving will change that. No matter how good the contracts are the employee groups at AS will never vote for them.
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RE: AS Mechanics Vote Down Tentative Agreement

Thu Jul 28, 2005 11:51 pm

Quoting PlanesNTrains (Reply 4):
and I'm leaning towards UA, if for no other reason than a lot of this crap is behind them. Tie will tell.

I wouldn't be so sure about that. Check out the link to Forbes:
http://www.forbes.com/business/servi...feeds/ap/2005/07/28/ap2161634.html
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RE: AS Mechanics Vote Down Tentative Agreement

Fri Jul 29, 2005 12:06 am

What exactly is it that AS wants from its mechanics ?
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RE: AS Mechanics Vote Down Tentative Agreement

Fri Jul 29, 2005 1:11 am

Here were the biggest points on management's initial proposal to the COPS group:

  • 6-year contract


  • Pay freeze for employees at top of scale


  • Step 12 eliminated for employees who haven't reached top of scale


  • No raise for 3 years


  • Increased premium for Company-selected leads and trainers


  • Company controls where, when and if leads are required


  • Erosion of seniority rights by management selection/demotion of leads


  • No improvement of existing substandard retirement plan


  • Health care -- pay more, get less; elimination of ability to negotiate health care provisions


  • No limit on management performing bargaining unit work


  • Elimination of OJI benefits


  • Elimination of double time in reference to Article 7, Overtime


  • Introduction of modified work week schedules with non-consecutive days off for clerical division


  • 5-year retention of seniority for employees promoted to management


  • Broadening of station agent language with no explanation of how or where they will be utilized


  • Was it horrible? No. Was it below "industry average" for pay and benefits, though? Yes. And that's why the union continues to negotiate this week.

    From what I'm hearing, they're looking for perhaps a 2% raise initially, with 1% per year after that over 3 or 4 years total. Nothing earth-shattering, especially considering the COPS group is already below industry average for the most part.

    The biggest stumbling blocks appear to be Lead Agents being selected based on management's discretion as opposed to being seniority-based (as it is now), healthcare increases (the company wants the COPS group to have the same VERY expensive plan that management has currently), and other issues in the contract language. One really big one is that right now any agent who interviews for and takes a job in management forfeits their right to come back to their union job after 90 days. Management wants to extend that window to FIVE YEARS.


    Now as far as the mechanics are concerned, unless I'm mistaken their tentative agreement actually contained a small pay increase, but it was more than offset by huge increases in their healthcare costs. I'm afraid that's universal these days - EVERYONE in all walks of life is getting hammered by higher healthcare costs, and that's simply not going to change.
    "In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem - government IS the problem." - Ronald Reagan

    Comments made here are my own and are not intended to represent the official position of Alaska Air Group
     
    gipper913
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    RE: AS Mechanics Vote Down Tentative Agreement

    Fri Jul 29, 2005 1:57 am

    What a shame, I fly AS often as I live in Orange County and my girlfriend lives in Portland, so I make frequent use of AS's SNA-PDX flights. This once (and fairly recently, at that) excellent customer-service carrier has gone way downhill in recent months. No doubt, this is due in no small part to labor unrest. Generally, I am anti-union, but I agree with previous posters that there is plenty of blame to go around here and the unions don't seem to be asking for the moon at all. That said, asking for a better deal, rejecting TAs, calling for strike votes (FA union website says they expect a strike vote in coming weeks) while simultaneously doing a very poor job with customer service is a bit hard to swallow as a consumer.

    My question: what to do about crucial reservations on AS this fall (girlfriend going PDX-LAX to meet me and go on to LIH on AA)? The pilots are not about to strike as they are sticking with their current contract for the next couple of years. BUT, the FAs are about to hold a strike vote and I imagine the mechanics may follow suit. Judging by how these things go (the proffer of arbitration, rejection of same by union, the 30-day cooling off period, etc) we could all be looking at an FA and/or mechanic strike at AS this fall.  bomb 

    Does anybody have a good read on whether the FA strike vote is simply to force a better deal or do they have the stomach for an actual work stoppage or CHAOS strike? Same question for the mechanics. Personally, I'd hate to add another $300-$400 reservation as a backup on top of an expensive trip to LIH! But, I am certainly not going to have my plans screwed by labor issues! I am sure we have some AS insiders (labor and management) on a.net that can give us some inside scoop(s).
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    airbazar
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    RE: AS Mechanics Vote Down Tentative Agreement

    Fri Jul 29, 2005 2:10 am

    Quoting EA CO AS (Reply 12):
    Was it horrible? No. Was it below "industry average" for pay and benefits, though? Yes. And that's why the union continues to negotiate this week.

    There's only one problem. Unlike flight attendants and pilots, maintenace jobs can and will likely be outsourced and/or off-shored. More and more airlines are outsourcing their maintenance these days. If they keep turning down offers like this they may very well put themselves out of a job completely.
     
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    RE: AS Mechanics Vote Down Tentative Agreement

    Fri Jul 29, 2005 3:01 am

    Airbazar, the negotiations I was referencing above were the "COPS" group - Clerical, Office and Passenger Service. These are res agents, airport CSAs, and accounting/admin personnel.
    "In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem - government IS the problem." - Ronald Reagan

    Comments made here are my own and are not intended to represent the official position of Alaska Air Group
     
    gipper913
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    RE: AS Mechanics Vote Down Tentative Agreement

    Fri Jul 29, 2005 3:11 am

    EA CO AS, wow, it is a relief to know there still are enough clerical, office and passenger service people at AS! When I call AS and try to talk to a res agent or other customer service type person (often soon after they alter their schedules - again) it is hard to imagine there being more than two or three people total working those jobs at AS! Last phone call was a 47 min wait (my office phone has a timer) until finally speaking with a human being - a woman who was clueless, then a 26 min wait while the clueless one checked with someone else who told her the obvious truth I had been trying to get across to her.

    Hmmm....now that I think of it...am I relieved to know there are enough COPS workers at AS to have a union....or am I utterly unsurprised that such a lazy and incompetent group is unionized? I'll have to think on that one.  Wink
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    RE: AS Mechanics Vote Down Tentative Agreement

    Fri Jul 29, 2005 3:58 am

    Quoting Gipper913 (Reply 16):
    or am I utterly unsurprised that such a lazy and incompetent group is unionized? I'll have to think on that one.

    You mean you're capable of thought? Your last post certainly wasn't indicative of that.
    "In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem - government IS the problem." - Ronald Reagan

    Comments made here are my own and are not intended to represent the official position of Alaska Air Group
     
    gipper913
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    RE: AS Mechanics Vote Down Tentative Agreement

    Fri Jul 29, 2005 4:25 am

    Quoting EA CO AS (Reply 17):
    You mean you're capable of thought? Your last post certainly wasn't indicative of that.

    Wow, chill out EA CO AS. Just going lighthearted (figured the smiley would incicate that) about a customer service decline that troubles me greatly at an airline I used to respect (as indicated in my first post). As I also indicated in my first post, I have more sympathy with the AS unions in their current struggle than I do with unions in general.

    My A.B. summa cum laude (Colgate U) and J.D. magna cum laude (Boston College Law School) do tend to indicate to me that I am capable of thought. Furthermore, given your excellent quote of the Gipper's (one of my favorite of his), I imagine we think more alike than you seem to believe.
    The size of the federal budget is not an appropriate barometer of social conscience or charitable concern. --R. Reagan
     
    PlanesNTrains
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    RE: AS Mechanics Vote Down Tentative Agreement

    Fri Jul 29, 2005 4:55 am

    Quoting HikesWithEyes (Reply 10):
    Quoting PlanesNTrains (Reply 4):
    and I'm leaning towards UA, if for no other reason than a lot of this crap is behind them. Tie will tell.

    I wouldn't be so sure about that. Check out the link to Forbes:
    http://www.forbes.com/business/servi....html

    Let's see:

    Alaska - maybe not this time.
    United - Well, CHAOS describes my family life, so I don't need it on a flight.
    Southwest - not nonstop and no seat assignments.
    Amtrak - Usually 6-12 hours late on this corridor, sleepers are pricey.
    Car - Gas sucks.

    Maybe I'll put on fake mouse ears and play disney videos in the family room instead  Smile.
    -Dave
     
    PlanesNTrains
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    RE: AS Mechanics Vote Down Tentative Agreement

    Fri Jul 29, 2005 5:09 am

    Quoting Gipper913 (Reply 16):
    Last phone call was a 47 min wait (my office phone has a timer) until finally speaking with a human being - a woman who was clueless, then a 26 min wait while the clueless one checked with someone else who told her the obvious truth I had been trying to get across to her.

    I think this is a sign of the times, unfortunately. Customer Service positions just aren't paying enough to attract good talent, while those who you do hire and are talented tend to be able to move on to jobs with better pay, insurance, hours, etc.

    I'm sure, too, that management is keeping the staffing low, trying to drive folks to the internet (or respond to the shifting tide). It's the same at the bank. It used to be you'd go in and there would be a number of tellers available to assist you. Now, it is often one or two (at a busy business oriented bank here in town), and those that are available are pushing products that take time from helping others. They are pushing people to the machines or the internet (or responding to the shift) but all it takes is a small rush and they and the customer are hosed.

    Alaska is a good airline with good people. With few exceptions, I've had great experiences with their res staff, flight attendants, etc. My one consistent complaint about Alaska is their Seattle terminal operations - many huge lines, indifferent employees - I've decided due to this alone that I will pursue other carriers if I can. Otherwise, a great bunch of folks.

    However, that can change on a dime with attitude - we've all seen it happen at other companies. And it takes a LONG time to change back. Once the good people and habits are gone, it's almost impossible to build that back in to the system.

    Good luck to Alaska - I hope that they remain strong going forward, and that this is but a blip. I'm not so sure, though.

    -Dave
    -Dave
     
    gipper913
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    RE: AS Mechanics Vote Down Tentative Agreement

    Fri Jul 29, 2005 5:09 am

    Quoting PlanesNTrains (Reply 19):
    Let's see:

    Alaska - maybe not this time.
    United - Well, CHAOS describes my family life, so I don't need it on a flight.
    Southwest - not nonstop and no seat assignments.
    Amtrak - Usually 6-12 hours late on this corridor, sleepers are pricey.
    Car - Gas sucks.

    LMAO!  rotfl 
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    gipper913
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    RE: AS Mechanics Vote Down Tentative Agreement

    Fri Jul 29, 2005 5:35 am

    Quoting PlanesNTrains (Reply 20):
    However, that can change on a dime with attitude - we've all seen it happen at other companies. And it takes a LONG time to change back. Once the good people and habits are gone, it's almost impossible to build that back in to the system.

    Couldn't agree more. The AS people at all levels were great (the best I have encountered on a domestic carrier) until the past two months or so. I do hope they turn things around quickly, and without having to resort to a strike by any of the unions.

    As to you other point, yes, the poor service on the phone is a sign of the times,...but was never that bad at AS before just as recently as a few months back, esp. for elites. Furthermore, I don't wait that long for AA or even UA to get to a competent person. Finally, my original point is that it is hard, as a consumer, to see such slippage in customer service, slippage to abysmal on-time performance, followed by rejections of contracts and talk of strikes.
    The size of the federal budget is not an appropriate barometer of social conscience or charitable concern. --R. Reagan
     
    Cactus739
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    RE: AS Mechanics Vote Down Tentative Agreement

    Fri Jul 29, 2005 5:37 am

    Quoting PlanesNTrains (Reply 19):
    Southwest - not nonstop and no seat assignments.

    In a thread about Alaska Airlines mechanics unions.... someone actually managed to mention Southwest's lack of seating assignments.

    I thought some topics were immune from that...  spin 
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    RE: AS Mechanics Vote Down Tentative Agreement

    Fri Jul 29, 2005 6:17 am

    Quoting Gipper913 (Reply 18):
    Wow, chill out EA CO AS. Just going lighthearted (figured the smiley would incicate that) about a customer service decline that troubles me greatly at an airline I used to respect (as indicated in my first post). As I also indicated in my first post, I have more sympathy with the AS unions in their current struggle than I do with unions in general.

    Gipper, I don't have a problem with a lighthearted jab, but calling people "lazy and incompetent" strikes me as being slightly more than just a wink-wink, nudge-nudge attempt at humor.

    While your credentials indicate a level of academic achievement, they do not excuse you from thinking before you speak - or post - about anything.

    I'm actually part of the very same COPS group you slammed - as are some other people who post here frequently. Given that, I think you'll understand why I wasn't entirely thrilled with your commentary about my co-workers.
    "In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem - government IS the problem." - Ronald Reagan

    Comments made here are my own and are not intended to represent the official position of Alaska Air Group
     
    gipper913
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    RE: AS Mechanics Vote Down Tentative Agreement

    Fri Jul 29, 2005 6:22 am

    Quoting Cactus739 (Reply 23):
    In a thread about Alaska Airlines mechanics unions.... someone actually managed to mention Southwest's lack of seating assignments.

    I thought some topics were immune from that...

    Well...WN is a favorite whipping boy. Though frankly, the open seating (and its attendant chaotic boarding process that blocks the concourse for those of us on our way to the gates of actual airlines) is nothing compared to the revulsion caused by the sight and smell of the average WN customer. EWWWW! Brings new meaning to Lowest Common Denominator.  Big grin
    The size of the federal budget is not an appropriate barometer of social conscience or charitable concern. --R. Reagan
     
    gipper913
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    RE: AS Mechanics Vote Down Tentative Agreement

    Fri Jul 29, 2005 7:45 am

    Quoting EA CO AS (Reply 24):
    Gipper, I don't have a problem with a lighthearted jab, but calling people "lazy and incompetent" strikes me as being slightly more than just a wink-wink, nudge-nudge attempt at humor.

    While your credentials indicate a level of academic achievement, they do not excuse you from thinking before you speak - or post - about anything.

    I'm actually part of the very same COPS group you slammed - as are some other people who post here frequently. Given that, I think you'll understand why I wasn't entirely thrilled with your commentary about my co-workers.

    EA CO AS, my "lazy and incompetent" reference referred to the typical stereotype of union members, not necessarily the COPS people at AS...which was the joke....which was why it was followed by my "I need to think about which is the case" comment. I agree my degrees are no excuse not to think before I speak, but I would ask you read carefully before you critique. If my meaning was unclear and you took offense, I apologize. I tried to make clear in my original post and others that I always liked AS and the AS people, but am troubled by how quickly (and how dramatically) it has gone downhill.

    That said, the fact that you are part of the COPS group at AS, yet just blithely write off poor customer service as a "sign of the times" is exactly the sort of attitude that feeds into consumers like myself losing any sympathy for the labor side of the ledger.

    Furthermore, it seems the members of the pilots, FAs and mechanics unions at AS are a bit out of touch when it is not just management with whom they disagree, but their own union leadership and contract negotiator. I certainly hope all the workers at AS get fair contracts and will return to working at the high level AS customers had come to expect and rely on. The fact that ever since the company broke up the SEA baggage handlers union, customer service has gone downhill does not tend to engender much optimism on the part of AS customers. If labor won't go the extra mile while making demands, how can we expect labor to go the extra mile once they are satisfied?

    [Edited 2005-07-29 00:48:04]
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    RE: AS Mechanics Vote Down Tentative Agreement

    Fri Jul 29, 2005 9:59 am

    Quoting Gipper913 (Reply 26):
    EA CO AS, my "lazy and incompetent" reference referred to the typical stereotype of union members, not necessarily the COPS people at AS...which was the joke....which was why it was followed by my "I need to think about which is the case" comment.

    Tell you what - I'll chalk it up to a misunderstanding and give you the benefit of the doubt on this one. It certainly appeared as if the remark were aimed solely at the COPS people at AS and not the stereotypical union member, though.

    Quoting Gipper913 (Reply 26):
    If my meaning was unclear and you took offense, I apologize.

    No apology is necessary. We'll start with a clean slate, ok?

    Quoting Gipper913 (Reply 26):
    That said, the fact that you are part of the COPS group at AS, yet just blithely write off poor customer service as a "sign of the times" is exactly the sort of attitude that feeds into consumers like myself losing any sympathy for the labor side of the ledger

    Perhaps it's time for some further clarification, because nowhere in my posts have I ever dismissed poor customer service as being acceptable under any circumstances.
    "In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem - government IS the problem." - Ronald Reagan

    Comments made here are my own and are not intended to represent the official position of Alaska Air Group
     
    PlanesNTrains
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    RE: AS Mechanics Vote Down Tentative Agreement

    Fri Jul 29, 2005 12:32 pm

    Quoting Gipper913 (Reply 22):
    As to you other point, yes, the poor service on the phone is a sign of the times,...but was never that bad at AS before just as recently as a few months back, esp. for elites. Furthermore, I don't wait that long for AA or even UA to get to a competent person. Finally, my original point is that it is hard, as a consumer, to see such slippage in customer service, slippage to abysmal on-time performance, followed by rejections of contracts and talk of strikes.

    I agree that it seems to be getting worse over time, although in all honesty I've always tried calling in the wee hours of the morning to try to avoid the long wait times that I've always found at AS - silly when you consider that they probably staff less in the middle of the night!

    Quoting Cactus739 (Reply 23):
    In a thread about Alaska Airlines mechanics unions.... someone actually managed to mention Southwest's lack of seating assignments.

    I REALLY had to try, but I managed  Smile.

    Quoting Gipper913 (Reply 25):
    Well...WN is a favorite whipping boy. Though frankly, the open seating (and its attendant chaotic boarding process that blocks the concourse for those of us on our way to the gates of actual airlines) is nothing compared to the revulsion caused by the sight and smell of the average WN customer. EWWWW! Brings new meaning to Lowest Common Denominator.

    Ya, you lost me here... I wasn't bemoaining WN for anything. I only stated my preference when flying with my family to have an assigned seat and a nonstop. Flying alone, I couldn't give a rip. Give me cheap.

    Quoting Gipper913 (Reply 26):
    That said, the fact that you are part of the COPS group at AS, yet just blithely write off poor customer service as a "sign of the times" is exactly the sort of attitude that feeds into consumers like myself losing any sympathy for the labor side of the ledger.

    Trust me, I've worked in the same type of environment (still do, to a degree) and it IS possible to both be a great service provider, but also see things for how they are. The fact of the matter is, as the economy rolls along, the lower pay Customer Service positions suffer. Call it Trickle Up - saying so doesn't imply an endorsement or even a blanket acceptance - it's just calling a spade a spade.

    In the end, folks that have a passion for service and integrity will do what they can to pick up the slack, but there will be more and more around them who don't have those same qualities, and are just looking for a paycheck and benefits. It goes the other way when the economy tanks.

    Quoting Gipper913 (Reply 26):
    Furthermore, it seems the members of the pilots, FAs and mechanics unions at AS are a bit out of touch when it is not just management with whom they disagree, but their own union leadership and contract negotiator.

    I think, if you compare the numbers, you would see that it may be the union LEADERSHIP that is out of touch with the membership. I'm not endorsing a position - it's not my fight, and I won't pretend to know the issues - but it's clear that the employees don't feel that the union leadership is "getting it".

    -Dave
    -Dave

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