The Comair strike, another perspective..

skydiverdriver

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Now that things are a bit different, and I've had the chance to hear a lot of people's opinions on our recent strike, I think I will let some of you know about some of the things that happened. I know this will make some of you angry, but I would just ask you to not take it personally, as your airline's MEC or management may be to blame, and not individual pilots.

Comair had a chance to change the industry. We had the most unified, and dedicated pilot group in the world on one side, and a very ruthless and intellegent group of managers on the other. We probably would never have had to strike if Delta had not purchased Comair, but by the time that happend we were almost three years past our amendable date, and it was way to far along to stop.

We also had a lot of support. We received letters and checks from pilots around the world, as well as other interested parties like Sporty's Pilot Shop, and many others. For this we are grateful. Delta set up phone banks and made sure they didn't fly any of our struck work. We thank them for their efforts. However, many feel it was the least they could do. Ideally, we were part of Delta, and they should have been on strike too. I know, as soon as I said that you Delta pilots thought, "well, no Delta pilot should have to lose his job for a Comair pilot." And, I would agree. I don't want any pilot to lose his job. But at least they could have had a write up campaign, or a weekend sick out, or something more than just not flying "struck work." Many people also feel that every flight Delta flew was struck work. We asked for Delta MEC's help when we proposed the Policy Implimentation Date on ALPA's merger and fragmentation policy. Now, that is another subject, but if we were Continental, then they would have merged us and been on strike with us. Again, we do appreciate the help, but walking the picket line when you have a good paying job is quite a bit different from walking one while making strike pay that could be taken away.

Also, the ASA pilots were asked to do informational picketing. I heard people on this board complaining, why should we do this on our day off? Well, the reason you have a day off is that you have a job. I even had friends at ASA tell me they had a "no lose situation." If Comair did well and got a good deal, they would too. If Comair went away, they would get their routes. Do you realize what you are saying? I'm not sure that they do. We had a once in a lifetime chance here, and you had an opportunity to help out. And, many did, with money and other support, but again, it wasn't quite enough, was it? Now if ASA decides to have a work action, Comair pilots will not be able to help, since we have a no-strike clause in our contract. We will only be able to send money, just like they did. We can't even do the informational picketing that the ASA guys were complaining about. It was to help yourselves, guys.

I keep hearing people say that the regionals should work harder to raise their standards of living, and make them less likely to take away mainline jobs. I agree with that, but honestly, what more could we have done? I sat at home for three months this summer. Has a Delta pilot ever had to do that? Again, dont' take this personally, as I'm glad you have never had to strike. However, you must also understand that you won't know what it is like to strike until you have walked a mile in my shoes.

Again, we all appreciate the help that we received. I know that you are thinking it would have been illegal for ASA or Delta to do any more than they did. Well, Comair pilots were given an injuncture (sp?) for their alleged illegal writeup campaign. So, again I say, what more could we have done?
 

Bebop

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Huh, what are you talking about?

The only people to blame are the people who voted for settlement offer III. If I recall it was 64% of the pilot group.

We had a "real" (remember that) chance of getting a breakthrough contract. We ended up getting a measly raise and rigs that I hear the company hasn't found a way to track and pay pilots for.

All we had to do is trust and rely on ourselves, not Delta, or ASA.
My friends that voted yes told me "I just need more jet time than I am outta here", "I really need to start paying my credit cards down"etc. etc. You have heard them all I am sure.

I voted NO then I packed my bags and left for CMH. You can't blame anyone else except yourself.
 

publisher

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Thinking

There is some flawed thinking here.

First of all, what is the role that regionals play. They are for market development. By their nature, they need to cost less than mainline both from an aircraft and costs standpoint. It really has nothing to do with taking jobs, ideally every market would start at the 180 passenger level but it does not. Regionals allow you to get into the game or maitain a presence at a cost you can afford. If the costs get out of whack with that, you are in fact discouaging the program that leads to more mainline jobs.

Secondly, there was not going to be a break through contract here. This misjudgement is what lead to the length of the strike. What was going to happen is that no major would ever buy a regional again. All the flying would have gone to other regionals. Check Continental wanting to spin off COEX. Delta was not going to give in period. It was that simple.
 

skydiverdriver

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Publisher is correct, that there was more to it. Hoever, I do not completely agree with bebop. I too voted no, but I feel that the main two reasons that many voted yes was because the MEC told them to, and they believed that the company would go under. I personally didn't care if it went under, as that was the chance I was willing to take. I also don't understand why the mec voted 100% to accept the third offer.

But, you say you don't understand bebop. Are you saying that help from ASA and Delta and ALPA national would have done no good at all? Do you think it was Comair pilots against Comair management, with no input from Delta Management? Did you hear Leo Mullin's comments about the strike being unfourtunate, and he wished he had not made some mistakes that he did? I don't understand why you think that we are an island, and nobody else could have helped. I agree that the yes vote made no sense, but we did strike for three months. That's a new record for any "regional." I guess I dont understand what you mean.
 

Jetflyr

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First of all, what is the role that regionals play. They are for market development.
I disagree.

Initially, the RJ's were for market development.

Once mainline saw how profitable the RJ was, that role changed. Delta, and any "major," would have an entire fleet of RJ's--and their associated lower-paid pilots--if it could.

Take a look at the way the market is headed; it's not just because of 9/11. With the numbers of RJ's that are on order--nationwide and worldwide--it's clear that the RJ is not limited to market development.
 

skydiverdriver

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Actually, I think publisher is way off on his analysis. RJs would make more money than mailine jets, even with parity of scale for the crews. Comair's profit margin was about 24% before Delta bought them, the highest of any airline in the world. Even if we got everything we wanted, it still would have been over 16%, much higher than the profit Delta makes. So, if Delta started purchasing RJ's and having their own mainline pilots fly them at mainline rates (for that size aircraft) they would still purchase a bunch of them because they are the right size for certain markets. Then Delta would become the leader since the other majors are restricted by scope on what small jets they can buy.

It doesn't matter why they use RJ's or who flies them. What matters is that RJ pilots do the same job as mailine pilots, with the same passengers, and they deserve the same compensation and respect. That is the only way we are going to take care of the worry that RJ's will take away mainline jobs. My point was that the other involved parties could have done much more to help than they did.
 

bigr

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Im a novice. I just want to know what MEC is?

thanks
 

Andy Neill

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While I'm not certain as to the meaning of the letter (Management Executive Committee?) I do know that the MEC is a body elected from the ranks of the labor group being represented to represent the interests of that group in its dealings with the management of a company.
 

FlyingSig

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Granted this is baited...but I'll bite. Debate is a healthy thing.


skydiverdriver said:
Now that things are a bit different, and I've had the chance to hear a lot of people's opinions on our recent strike, I think I will let some of you know about some of the things that happened. I know this will make some of you angry, but I would just ask you to not take it personally, as your airline's MEC or management may be to blame, and not individual pilots.

No offense taken.....but it couldn't be that YOUR airline's MEC and their politics had anything to do with it?

Comair had a chance to change the industry. We had the most unified, and dedicated pilot group in the world on one side, and a very ruthless and intellegent group of managers on the other. We probably would never have had to strike if Delta had not purchased Comair, but by the time that happend we were almost three years past our amendable date, and it was way to far along to stop.
With this I agree with you 100% The Unity Comair pilots displayed was amazing.

However, many feel it was the least they could do. Ideally, we were part of Delta, and they should have been on strike too.

When you say many, I really think that is a cop-out. By posting this message, while others may have had this opinion, I think what you're really trying to say is YOU think DAL pilots should have also struck. We'll examine this a little further, but lets take the emotion out of it. How would this have been legal under the RLA?



I know, as soon as I said that you Delta pilots thought, "well, no Delta pilot should have to lose his job for a Comair pilot." And, I would agree. I don't want any pilot to lose his job.
If the DAL pilots had stuck for Comair, it would have been an illegal strike (whereas the Comair strike was perfectly legal as they had been released by the goverment to do so). So any pilot that didn't show up to work could be fired. There would be no back to work agreement because the courts and the goverment would say it was an illegal strike.


But at least they could have had a write up campaign, or a weekend sick out, or something more than just not flying "struck work."
DALPA and 49 other pilots were already getting sued by Delta for an alleged no overtime campain...so do you really think that DALPA would openly sponsor an illegal sickout in the midst of their own contract negotiations and efforts to get released themselves?! I think the APA set the industry precident with thier multi million dollar fine when it comes to illegal sick outs. What would you do if you were a leader of DALPA?



Many people also feel that every flight Delta flew was struck work.
Again...this seems to me like you just don't have the courage to say that this is your opinion. So why bother with the post?

We asked for Delta MEC's help when we proposed the Policy Implimentation Date on ALPA's merger and fragmentation policy.
When you say "we" here.... I'm curious.... do you mean the Comair MEC or do you mean the RJDC? Again...another subject for another thread...this I agree.


but if we were Continental, then they would have merged us and been on strike with us.
As a former IACP dues paying member, this is incorrect. There would have been no merger between CAL and I'm assuming you mean CoEx in a similar situation. Would CAL strike for CoEx? Maybe... but the BIG BIG thing you're missing here with your insinuations is that BOTH the CAL AND the COEX contracts allow for each other to honor the picket lines . This was in neither the Delta contract OR the Comair contract. Had Delta honored Comair picket lines...it would be illegal. If CAL honors CoEx lines, it's legal. It's that simple. There is also the benifit at CAL/CoEx of having a single MEC (this is also how the IACP was run...thus written into the ALPA merger) You're also making the large assumption that mainline LEC members would vote to honor a CoEx picket line....given CAL's history with strikes, not to mention the IAH Capt. rep is a Scab (yes a scab got voted into an ALPA office) it's a very big IF. Go ask some older CoEx folks about "One Comany, One Signing Date" in '97. Then you'll see how much mainline support they have.

But now DAL (but not ASA) does have somthing in the new contract to help:

During a labor dispute involving a codesharing partner of the Company:
1. the Company will not perform training of pilots for service as employees of the code sharing partner (replacement pilots) in connection with a labor dispute, and
2. an affiliate will not perform training of pilots for service as employees of the code sharing partner (replacement pilots) other than itself.

So now ASA doesn't have to worry about scabs being trained (they just have to worry about Skywest taking the routes)... thanks to the DAL mainline contract.


Again, we do appreciate the help, but walking the picket line when you have a good paying job is quite a bit different from walking one while making strike pay that could be taken away......
Also, the ASA pilots were asked to do informational picketing. I heard people on this board complaining.......
Man, the more you write, the more sour grapes I hear. The bottom line is you voted yes to strike your airline. If you didn't think that you could win the battle on your own, why do it? Your strike also negativly affected the bottom lines of our airlines, DAL & ASA , yet we supported your action. That fact alone speaks volumes about the ASA & DAL MEC's and pilots ..... PLUS the financial and logistical help above and beyond the moral support, yet you still point fingers and place blame. Amazing.

I agree with that, but honestly, what more could we have done?
Um, take a lesson from the CoEx pilots in '97 and vote No?

I sat at home for three months this summer. Has a Delta pilot ever had to do that?
I know of 400 pilots that have been sitting at home since November 1 - and will be out a lot longer than 3 months without pay...no strike pay either - while your airline continues to hire and grow. Hmmm, grow, that means you personally benifit through quality of life (more lines/more seniority) and financially (upgrades) while DAL pilots are on the street. Since we didn't fly struck work OR grow during your strike, how did DAL pilots personally benifit from your lack of paycheck? Answer: They didn't.


Again, we all appreciate the help that we received.
Then how about sending a check to help a furloughed family this Christmas? I did.

Well, Comair pilots were given an injuncture (sp?) for their alleged illegal writeup campaign.
And as part of your back to work agreement for your LEGAL strike, those hostigages were reinstated (as promised by your MEC) and all lawsuits were dropped. Spare us the dramatics. DAL and ASA wouldn't have a leg to stand on in the courts because IT'S NOT IN THEIR CONTRACTS.


So, again I say, what more could we have done?
And I say again...your pilot group could've voted no if it's such a bad deal.


As you like to say...have a nice day.
 
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FlyingSig

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bigr said:
Im a novice. I just want to know what MEC is?

thanks
Master Executive Council


Every ALPA carrier is made up this way:

Each base is given a council number (example, I belong to Council 047).

Each council has a certain number of representatives (usually 1 Captain rep, 1 First Officer rep, and 1 Second Officer rep if applicable)

These reps make up the LEC....Local Executive Council.

All the LEC's (for airlines with many bases) make up the MEC. The MEC also has seperate leaders to oversee the LEC structure.


Hope this helps....
 

ifly4food

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SDD,
I have to say I'm not very impressed with your logic and a little hurt by your acccusations.
You know that ASA and Delta have no strike clauses. It would have been illegal for us to strike along side you or take any other job action against our company.
Ask the APA what can happen when you violate the RLA... didn't they get fined/sued for a total of $40mil? That worked out to about $40,000 per pilot. Ouch.
And with "Dubbya the Unionbuster" in the White house now, all bets are off.

At ASA, we sent checks, refused many flights that even REMOTELY resembled struck work and conducted "informational" picketing at our hubs. Many of our pilots even joined you on your picket line in CVG.

What more could we have done to support you?

We appreciated what you were doing as we still do.
If you heard a select few ASA pilots talking of taking advantage of your situation, I'm sure you know they don't represent the majority of us.
As for ASA pilots not wanting to jeopardize our jobs by conducting an illegal writup campaign or even a strike, you bet we weren't willing. It was your battle to fight, not ours. We supported you in every reasonable way, but we weren't on strike... you were.

If your neighbor set his house on fire in protest, whould you set yours on fire too? Or would you stand in the street and cheer him on?
 

RJFlyer

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Skydiverdriver,

The strike's over - why can't you just let it go? Well, since you can't, here are a few questions for you:

1) Do you feel you (Comair pilots) actually did change the industry? I do, because you made Delta realize all the steps it needs to take to prevent anything like that ever happening again (i.e. ASA's upcoming contract negotiations and the interesting Skywest & Comair expansion/ASA stagnation)

2) What do you think the Comair pilots will do on all the formerly ASA routes (that Delta is switching Comair and Skywest to) if the ASA pilots go on strike next year?

3) The Comair (and Skywest) pilots on this board sure seem happy with all the expansion/hiring/training that is going on (or will be soon). How do you explain that, seeing as most of it is at ASA's expense?

And before anyone brings up the fact that ASA is taking over a bunch of Delta's former routes - I realize this, and from what I see, it plays into Delta management's hand. What I see happening is this: Delta management brings Comair and Skywest into ASA's hubs, taking over current ASA flying (and adding flying that should be ours), and concurrently takes the downsized Delta routes and has ASA start flying them. So if ASA does strike, there is very little impact. Delta gets its old routes back (not struck, since they weren't ours to begin with) and the ATL and DFW hubs are covered because of the added coverage by Comair/Skywest.

Thanks, Comair (and Skydiverdriver), for changing the industry. And costing me the advancement you are now enjoying.
 

Little Bubba

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RJflyer, Have you ever thought of maybe Comair is offering a better product than ASA? Having jumpseated with both over the years, it looks to me Comair is doing a better job with customer than service than ASA.
 

ifly4food

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SDD,
Let me add this thought...
I wonder why you didn't take this discussion to the main ALPA message board. I'd love to see the warm and fuzzy response you'd get there. Especially without anonymity to hide behind.
 
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ifly4food

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Little Bubba said:
RJflyer, Have you ever thought of maybe Comair is offering a better product than ASA? Having jumpseated with both over the years, it looks to me Comair is doing a better job with customer than service than ASA.
That was a cheap shot, Bubba.
If Delta doesn't like our product they have every means to improve it. To simply farm out our flying because they don't like us doesn't make any business sense.
By your comment about jumpseating I take it you don't work at either company. Perhaps you should refrain from commenting on companies you don't have first hand knowledge of for the risk of making a fool out of yourself.
 

Marko Ramius

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Ever get that feeling that we are all acting like crabs in a barrell somethimes? 9/11 seems to have intensified that quite a bit.
 

rjcap

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Little Bubba,

I'll take a shot at your comment regarding quality of product.

ASA product is Delta product. If Delta wanted to improve customer service down in here in good ole Atlanta they could spend the money and hire decent people.

I have lived in Cincinnati and spent time in CVG. I agree customer service is better but that is due to the demographic of the area. Atlanta does not have the number of employable people that CVG does and won't for many years. If Delta (ASA) wants to really improve the quality of the product here in ATL they will have to either raise compensation or bring customer service reps from other locations.
 

skydiverdriver

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Dear Mr Sig,
You take a lot of trouble to answer my questions, and I appreciate that. I'm just wondering why you leave some alone, but I guess that's up to you. You asked if the rjdc or comair mec did the pid, and that was the comair mec. Only an ALPA MEC can ask for a policy implementation with the union. However, since it was turned down (illegally in my opinion), and ALPA cannot sue itself, it took a group of non-MEC pilots to start litigation, thus the rjdc. You ask why I don't put this as my opinion, and I ask, why does it matter? Why not answer the question, whether it's my opinion or not? You ask us why we voted to strike on our own, well we did, but we weren't on our own, after your company purchased us. We voted to strike before we were owned by DAL, and went on strike afterward. That made us a part of YOUR airline. Also, we did vote no, twice, but our MEC asked us to vote yes on the last one. Many people did, and we had to, in my opinion, because of the lack of help we were getting from you and yours. I'm not angry about it though, as we took a risk with some illegal actions, as you would have if you had helped more. We were willing to do it, and you weren't. I also agree that you were in a difficult position with your own negotiations going on, but again, it should have been a team effort. I'm not saying that anything different could have happened, I'm just saying that nobody should ask us what more we could have done. WE did a lot. You might ask what more YOU could have done to help.

For the guy who wonders why I brought it up, it's because it's going to happen again, and people need to know what happened. ASA is coming up soon, and our hands will be tied, as we have a no-strike/no handbilling clause. And, of course the injunction was dropped after the strike. What does that have to do with the fact that we still did all we could? Did the fact that it was illegal stop us, or keep us from getting the proffer?
 

skydiverdriver

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to rjflyer,

Please explain what I, or any Comair pilot is doing to take your advancement away? Are you saying that we are expanding because we were forced into this contract, and now make "regional" standard pay? Perhaps you are confusing what Delta, ASA and Comair MANAGEMENT are doing with what our PILOTS are doing. They control the marketing and aircraft allocation. We were fighting for industry standard pay and work rules. I don't see what I did to take your advancement away.

And the reason Delta pilots are being furloughed is their own greed. We tried to help you with that, and you refused to even talk about it. Your senior pilots also turned down a reduction in hours to help the junior guys. I guess you don't take care of your own either, do you?
 

ifly4food

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Re: to rjflyer,

skydiverdriver said:
And the reason Delta pilots are being furloughed is their own greed. We tried to help you with that, and you refused to even talk about it. Your senior pilots also turned down a reduction in hours to help the junior guys. I guess you don't take care of your own either, do you?
That's a pretty bold statement, even for you. Have you been enjoying a little too much "holiday cheer"? :D
 
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