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Wed, Oct 10, 2007

SkyWest Pilots Start Voting On Whether To Join ALPA

ASA Pilots Examine TA; Contract Talks Started In 2002

Pilots at regional carrier SkyWest Airlines took the latest step Tuesday in their quest to acquire union representation. Over the next four weeks, approximately 2,700 pilots will cast ballots to determine whether they will be represented by the Air Line Pilots Association.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports the election, run by the National Mediation Board, will utilize phone ballots. Voting ends November 6... and comes as pilots at Atlantic Southeast Airlines -- which is operated under the SkyWest banner, though its pilots are represented by ALPA -- scrutinize a tentative contract agreement reached last month.

"I think [SkyWest pilots] should see this as a positive note. It points to the benefits that you get when you have a collective bargaining agent represent you," ALPA spokesman Rick Bernskoetter told the paper Monday. "Ultimately, this bumps our pay rates slightly above those of SkyWest, [which] is what is going to happen out of this tentative agreement."

If ratified, the agreement means ASA pilots flying 50-seat regional jets will earn a 20-percent jump in pay, to around $22,000 per year. The most senior pilots, flying 70-seat planes, will see a one-percent bump in pay to around $105,000.

"It still doesn't bring us all the way to the top, but it gets us up there in the running, where we feel we are competitive," Bernskoetter said.

Ratification of the TA would also bring to end contract talks that started in September 2002. Over the last year, ALPA asked the mediation board to declare an impasse in talks three times. The first two requests had little effect... but the third time appears to have been a charm, as the request brought SkyWest CEO Jerry Atkin to the bargaining table. The TA came three days later.

"It's been a long road to get to this point, so it feels good to be close to a final deal," ASA spokeswoman Kate Modolo said.



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