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Sun, May 18, 2008

Teamsters Protest Frontier Execs' Severance Packages

Accuse Management Of Negotiating In Bad Faith With Workers

Last week, Frontier Airlines announced it would cut employee pay by 10 percent, as that carrier struggles through Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The airline said it's only temporary... and workers will see their pay restored in October.

Or will they? The Denver Business Journal reports Frontier has also worked to renegotiate pay agreements with both union and non-union employees, looking for ways to trim employee costs, allowed under the rules of Chapter 11. Things seemed to be going smoothly with that plan... until the Teamsters caught wind Tuesday of severance packages sought after by the carrier's executive staff.

And then, as they say, the wheels came off the wagon.

"We negotiated in good faith with Frontier management even though they already have the lowest labor costs of all low-cost carriers," said Matthew Fazakas, president of Teamsters Local 961. "They continually moved the goal posts for a deal. But we met every savings demand they made. Now we learn they had a secret plan to give themselves golden parachutes while workers get nothing.

"Golden parachutes for management are a deal breaker," Fazakas said.

Those gilded parachutes amount to six-months pay for all top executives at Frontier, according to the union, should the airline go under. Conversely, workers would receive "little to nothing" if Frontier is grounded.

"We're outraged by this secret plan for a golden parachute," Fazakas said. "They concealed this plan from us throughout bargaining. They want us to have confidence in their plan to emerge from bankruptcy, but obviously they have no confidence in it themselves."

Frontier officials haven't commented on the accusations, though spokesman Steve Snyder pointed out executives have already taken a 20 percent pay cut of their own, in hopes of making the airline more attractive to outside investors.

"We're in the process of trying to get financing. We have to show potential investors ... that we're doing everything possible for the long-term viability of the company," Snyder said. "I think you're going to have some people grumpy about it, but I think people recognize what the situation is."

Most of Frontier's workforce is non-union. Pilots, mechanics, aircraft cleaners, and dispatchers are Frontier's only unionized employees, according to the airline, with the Teamsters representing about 425 workers out of 6,140.

FMI: www.frontierairlines.com, www.teamsters.org

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