Speedport-The difference in salaries between a Captian and a mechanic is due to the different levels of skills required to do the job and also the fact that pilots are always the one who have to solve the problem with relatively little resourses. (ie: they can't walk outside and latch that cowling closed!) For the majority of repairs, any mechanic can perform the task at hand and do so skillfully throughout their careers. However, pilot skills increase over the years as they work their way up the senority ladder. To insure that these skills exist and develop pilots have their simulator checks. If their skills are not there, they wind up without a job. I have seen this happen to a 747 captain. Mechanics are not subject to this scrutiny. Another thing a pilot has to deal with are the medical exams. Many pilots wind up on leave due to medical problems that a mechanic can work with until they retire.
DouglasDC8, mechanics skills increase with experience just like pilots skills do. An A&P ticket is a licence to learn. Other than the sim and med checks, your comparison between pilots and mechanics is just plain wrong.
As for the United mechanics, I'm behind them all the way. They still are behind from the last industry downturn. Pay has stagnated terribly in the past twenty years. In the 70s, a top mech made about half of what a top pilot made, today mechs barely make 1/4.
The airline industry is about to endure a harsh wake-up call. About a month ago, I visited a few car dealerships about a month ago to test the job market should I become furloughed. At all three shops, I was given a firm offer. The start pay wasn't all that spectacular, but within a year or so, depending upon my productivity, pay could easily exceed what I make now.
It seems the fair market value for a top notch skilled auto mechanic is somewhere in the $75K range. It should go without saying an aircraft mechainc should make more than an auto mechanic, but airline management types don't see it that way. Pilots and flight attendants need an airline to do their respective jobs, mechanics dont.
Put yourself in the mechanics shoes. Would you prefer:
a. Working outdoors in all types of weather, at night, on holidays and weekends, knowing a mistake could kill hundreds of people for about $50k a year.
b. Working indoors, dayshift, monday thru friday, weekends and holidays off. If a major mistake is made, the car gets towed back to the shop and you get paid AGAIN to fix your mistake. All for about $75k a year.
The bottom line is quite a few mechs are at the end of their rope. United going under might just be the best thing that ever happend to them.