I don't know specifics off the top of my head but if you go here you can at least get a "non-pr" version of what's going on from the pilot's perspective. http://www.alpa.org/internet/airlinenews/cmr/
From what I've gathered the pilots have operated without a current-contract since 1998. Comair is recognized by many anylists as the largest "regional" ariline in the world and the most profitable. The pilots have apparently accepted sub standard pay, little benefits, a really horrible scheduling system and NO retirement plan, among other things, in order to make the airline the largest and most profitable. They are now simply asking for a share what is rightfuly theirs. A share of which they helped to create. Management has voted raises for themselves. Other departments have recieve better pay and much better benefits packages. Stating flight attendants with Comair make more than the pilots.
The pilots simply want A) a contract B) decent pay - currently the range is $15k per year starting, up to senior pay of $70k per year. There are no work rules, scheduling is awful (scheduled day-night-day-night) consequtively. Which, by the way, common sense would dictate would be hazardous simply due to rest reasons. And the list goes on. Again, take a look through the Web site above.
There is a definte incentive to pay pilots, and all crew for that matter, well - as, if the pay scale slips downward, less qualified people will enter the career and in this industry that could be a very, very dangerous thing. Comair has grown into an airline that people want to make careers out of. The airline oeprates and profits better than most that are considered "career quality" and it is only fair that these pilots are compensated as such.
It seems to me that management wants the profits but doesn't want to admit "cost of doing business" has gone up.
I'm sure the pilots are probably asking for a bit too much but then who doesn't - from what I've read management is doing the same by offering only marginal increases in pay and a befeits package that the REST OF THE COMPANY already has!.
This might help some:
Opening Statment to the Mediator
Capt. Cory Tennen,
As the negotiating Chairman for the pilots of Comair, I have the honor of presenting our opening remarks.
Today marks the beginning of a new approach to negotiations for all of us at Comair. We enter this day with the help of the National Mediation Board and their senior mediator, Mr. Jack Bavis.
More than fifteen months ago management and Comair Pilots representatives together began the process of negotiating for a new collective bargaining agreement to bring us into the new millennium. We chose collectively to use the process of Interest Based Bargaining. Together we schooled ourselves, with the help of Harvard University and the Mediation Board, in the theories and processes of IBB. Since that time we have used the process, and I believe it has had a positive effect.
However, as we all knew from our training, the process of IBB tends to evolve into a slightly different looking process the further we get into bargaining. That is not bad; in fact we have collectively worked quite well with our own interpretation of IBB. Make no mistake; IBB has worked, in our opinion, exactly where it was supposed to work, that is, in areas related to "process". I think that over the past few months both sides have noticed that IBB began to fade from the forefront of the process and a more traditional approach has entered the process as we began to discuss in greater detail areas of the agreement that deal primarily with money and control issues. This is not accidental. I will not spend anytime trying to blame either side for this transgression of the process, in my opinion it seemed quite natural and inevitable.
From our side of the table it is hoped that the mediation process will help us achieve collectively the agreement we all set out to accomplish almost a year and a half ago. That is, an agreement that is not only satisfactory to all parties here today, but also acceptable to the pilot group at large, senior management and their respective Board of Directors. To do anything less would be a failure for all concerned.
I will not go into great detail of all the issues we face, there are many and we have a document that we collectively worked on that spells them all out. I will however spend a few minutes now discussing the main items that we as pilots at Comair must have solutions to. In no specific order they are Job Security, Work Rules/Scheduling, Pay, Retirement and Insurance. It may be hard to believe but this hasn’t changed since bargaining began, not only here at Comair but historically at all airlines. This is important to remember because we, the pilots of Comair, as represented by the negotiating team, do not seek anything that is not already fully implemented at any independent airline the size of ours or larger.
In Job Security we have been able to work through many issues, some solutions quite frankly were suggested by management and we thank them for that. But the main issues that remain in this section are still the same as they were when we began. The issue of Successorship, or what happens if another carrier purchases or gains control of us, not only as a carrier, but for the pilots themselves. Do we work for another entity as a separate carrier, or as a single carrier; as separate pilot groups or as a single pilot group? Do the pilots relinquish their career potential or do we retain it? These are just a few of the issues that this problem poses. The pilots of Comair have stated quite adamantly that there is no way we will stand idly by during an acquisition by another carrier and allow our current jobs to disappear, our career progression to shrink or to be taken away completely as the result of such a transaction. We have stated this before and we will state it again, this is a self-help issue and we will do whatever is required to ensure that our futures are sufficiently protected to our satisfaction. If we need to strike the airline over this issue we will do so. If this causes our airline to fail as a result, so be it. We are prepared to do whatever it takes to protect ourselves and our careers as long as this airline continues to operate.
The other issue in this section concerns our code share arrangements and how they affect us. Management presented an argument that we understood and subsequently we made a counter proposal as a result. This would ensure protections of our pilot group by using a no furlough clause and a guarantee of no downgrades as a basis for agreement. This entire section of the agreement is vital to a successful conclusion of negotiations. Without this section of the agreement all the other sections become irrelevant.
The scheduling/work rule area of the agreement happens to encompass many issues including duty hour limitations, preferential bidding and related matters, reserve scheduling and assignments including ready reserve, and Minimum Pay Rules (or Duty Rigs). It must be stated that the current Preferential Bidding System has not been in compliance with the current agreement including the honoring of pilot seniority issues, since date of signing in 1994. A new system is currently undergoing testing and we hope that it will be successful. A solution to the software to be used must be found and it must be capable of contractual compliance for all pilots of Comair. However, I do not think that a successful conclusion to the bidding software problem will delay an agreement as long as defined progress is accomplished along with the required SOR letter of agreement.
The duty hour limitations present another longstanding problem with management that must be solved to get to a successful conclusion of negotiations. The issue of the length of the duty day has been in dispute since DOS of the current agreement. We must have an agreement on this item, management knows the basic limitation that we must have (14 hours) and it must be a hard limit. In our opinion there is no additional cost involved, this was paid for during the negotiations of '94 and the interim agreement signed at the end of 1996. In addition, duty limitations, specifically dealing with the backside of the clock, must also be agreed. This company is beginning to fly these types of schedules and soon will be doing more late night flying. There must also be improvements in the rest provisions. Scheduled reduced rest is a safety problem, which management refuses to acknowledge.
Reserve pilot rules also need addressing. These have also been ongoing problems since DOS in '94 specifically with the assignment and reassignment of a reserve pilot. A solution must be found in this area, though we have not proposed a specific solution since we have felt that the process of IBB would work well in this area. Some discussion has taken place much more is required.
Finally we get to Minimum Pay Rules or Rig’s. Since it’s founding this company has scheduled pilots in ways that, in our view, obliterate any type of life quality. The implementation of MPR’s will help alleviate some of these problems by forcing the company to schedule as efficiently as possible, or pay the penalty if they fail. For too long we pilots have borne the brunt of the daily, weekly, monthly and yearly scheduling inadequacies, and we are no longer willing to tolerate them. MPR’s will include a satisfactory minimum day and is essential to an agreement. The pilots of this airline will again do whatever it takes to garner the improvements we desperately need. Self-help will occur without these provisions, which will include a minimum day. They work and are used industry wide, and this company can survive and continue to prosper with them as others have and do.
Retirement is the last big issue that must be resolved in any new agreement. Today we do not have a retirement plan funded by the company or adequate for our pilots. Before these negotiations we have had little retirement on this property. During this agreement we have seen the beginning and this year we will have more. In the future there will continue to be increasing retirements from the pilot group. We have become a career airline. A true retirement plan is essential for an agreement. The pilots of this airline will again do whatever it takes to get in place a plan that meets the retirement needs of its pilots. Included in this plan will be the requirement to provide credit for prior service to the pilots employed as of the amendable date. We are willing to consider any available Company funded option. .
Pay rates are the last item I spoke of earlier. It goes without saying that a pay raise is required for this agreement. While this raise will no doubt be negotiated, management must understand that it must be substantial. Most importantly the pilots of this airline are well aware of what has been lost since the amendable date and will not ratify an agreement that does not include the retroactivity to June of '98. Once again, whatever it takes.
Management has routinely flaunted the low labor costs they have, the high profits they generate, the amounts of money this company has and the unwillingness management has to share what we collectively have garnered for this company. Comair pilots are dedicated professionals from many walks of life, all of whom know what this company was, what it is now, and what it can be in the future. We are shareholders and stakeholders.
It is our opinion that the only reason we are here today is management’s unwillingness to share in what we have achieved for this airline. This airline is the most profitable airline in the world; nothing that we have asked for is unreasonable for this company. Management has yet to show or substantiate that anything we have asked for will harm this company today or in the future. We have heard only rhetoric. Rhetoric and promises are what we have heard from management for over twenty years. The time for both rhetoric and promises is over and the pilots of this airline are prepared as a single cohesive unit to do whatever we must to achieve our needs.
We hope that management believes us; today, we do not believe that they do. Their actions have not shown it so far during these negotiations. The only agreements that have been achieved to date are agreements that management feels they can implement tomorrow at little or no additional cost from today. In contrast, they have no difficulty accepting changes that will improve operations and dramatically reduce costs. Many such changes have already been agreed. We are aware that many of our needs will generate substantial additional costs tomorrow. We have already contributed through our many years of service to our company's spectacular profitability by accepting start up wages, substandard working conditions, extraordinary scheduling irregularities, innumerable hours of work and availability without pay, no significant retirement benefits, concessionary health care and insurance programs, little or no protection of our careers and futures and even permitted the company to remove us from its incentive program (available to all other employees) in exchange for abuse and violation of an already inferior contract.
As a direct result our company has enjoyed unprecedented growth and can now readily afford the additional costs that our needs may generate. If senior management can have the job protections, pay raises and retirement packages they have given themselves during the last five years, they can now provide for our needs. Amazingly the costs of providing these "packages" to only five of our top executives are very similar to providing a full retirement package for 1200 Comair pilots. It’s all public record.
I would like to add that management has repeatedly stated that some items, that we have asked for will be too expensive due to the fact that management must also give them to all other employees. Let me be clear on this point, we do not bargain for any other group of employees. If we allocate dollars to a particular area of our agreement and management later decides to give the same benefit to all other employees, most of whom do not bargain collectively and are not long term career employees, then those allocated dollars will be redistributed retroactively back to the pilot group. We will not be "charged" for what other employee groups are given simply because we bargain collectively.
I have tried to outline from our perspective, the major issues that are still unresolved in this round of negotiations. All are important items that individually and collectively the pilots of this airline have stated they will resort to whatever the law allows in order to achieve the desired results. It is hoped that, if it occurs, a failure to achieve an agreement during the mediation process will be seen quickly in order to move the process to the next step. We do not seek or wish for Self-Help, but we are prepared to take that step if the need arises.
Rhetoric has been heard this time and in the past that what the Comair pilots are seeking should be done in steps, that is, that we should focus "on one particular point of the agreement, improve that point, and wait for the next time to get some other improvement. That has historically been done at other carriers, and that’s good enough for Comair pilots." Wrong. Comair pilots have for the past twenty plus years worked to make this airline the most profitable, largest and best airline of its type in the world.
No airline flies the system or aircraft that we do in the numbers that we do. No airline has consistently operated with record profits quarter after quarter for more than ten years. The pilots have made a major contribution to this success through substandard agreements in each and every negotiation. It is time for us to receive a return on our investment. We deserve to be labeled in the industry as the "best managed airline", and the pilots have earned the right to the best career protection, the best compensation package, the best scheduling and work rule systems, the best health and insurance protection and the best security in retirement as well. Management has theirs; they achieved it during the duration of our current agreement, all of it. Our pilots deserve no less.
As a last word, this pilot group historically has seen agreements on this property reached with eighteen months of negotiations. Our last agreement divided into two eighteen-month periods, took three long years. That is not acceptable this time. Eighteen months will occur just as the holiday season is upon us. It is imperative that we achieve an agreement acceptable to all prior to that time. To do anything less, is just plain dangerous for all.
Sorry for the length -
Just think that people should know both sides and not simply bash management or the union simply becuase they can or feel they should. Unions exist for a reason and regardless of what people think - when they operate correctly they protect the worker. Corporations, when operated correctly, work by streamlining and automating management. But, the two must balance each other out as it is not fair or productive for either party to hold exclusive power over the other.