Pilots' Work Stoppage Would End NWA Service to Over One Hundred
Cities, Says Union
The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) announced Tuesday that
Mesaba Airlines pilots have overwhelmingly authorized a strike
should union leaders call for a work stoppage at one of the
nation's largest regional airlines. The pilots voted 98 percent in
favor of a strike.
"Our goal is a fair and equitable contract, not a strike," said
Captain Tom Wychor, chairman of the Mesaba unit of ALPA. "The
bargaining process needs a deadline so that we can achieve this
The pilots agreed to a concessionary contract in 1996, saving
the company more than $10 million in labor costs to date. Starting
salaries for Mesaba pilots, who operate both jet and turboprop
airliners, is less than $17,000 per year. After three years that
salary is only $24,000.
Contract negotiations between Mesaba and ALPA commenced in June
of 2001, and have been federally mediated since August 2002.
Remaining open issues include compensation, job security, work
rules and retirement.
"Our pilots have sent a clear and bold message to management
today," said Wychor after the authorization results were announced.
"If we can't come to terms with management on a new agreement that
recognizes our contributions to this company, our pilots are
prepared to strike."
ALPA has petitioned the National Mediation Board (NMB), the
government agency that oversees airline and railroad labor
disputes, for a release from mediation. This would trigger a 30-day
cooling off period after which pilots could strike. The NMB has not
yet made a formal response to the request.