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Wed, Oct 29, 2003

Alaska, Machinists Reach Tentative Agreement

Contract Extension Reached with Alaska Airlines Agents

Alaska Airlines just announced last night that it has reached a tentative agreement with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers that would extend the existing contract between the airline and its clerical, office and passenger service (COPS) employees.
The agreement covers Alaska's 3,153 customer service agents, reservations sales agents, operations agents, accounting specialists and more. The agreement must be ratified before it will take effect. IAM members will be voting to ratify over the next few weeks.

The new contract affects only wages, bringing the carrier's COPS employees "in line with market rates" for the industry. Employees will receive a 2 percent pay increase retroactive to October 26, 2002, and another 2 percent commencing last Saturday.

The agreement resolves a longstanding issue surrounding employee shift trades. Otherwise, work rules, pensions, health benefits and other elements are unchanged.

Negotiations on a new contract began 15 months ago but prospects for an agreement were not likely in the near term. "While progress was made in a number of areas during that time, two of the biggest -- pensions and health care -- found the negotiating teams struggling to find common ground," said Ed White, vice president of ground services. "Rather than let pay increases get held up because of those two issues, the negotiating teams opted for this extension."



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