Mechanics' Privacy At Risk?

Mechanics’ Privacy At Risk? Privacy on the Web By Stephen P. Prentice February 2001 Most of us, no doubt, are aware of the continuing legal wrangle between the big airline and their mechanics. The airline sued their mechanics and...


Mechanics’ Privacy At Risk?

Privacy on the Web

Stephen P. PrenticeBy Stephen P. Prentice

February 2001

Money
The basic problem is simple. Flight deck personnel are clearly overpaid for what they do and the risks they face. The captain signs the flight release. The maintenance staff has already put their license on the line long before his. The mechanic puts his name in the logbook far more times than any crewmembers, so why should he or she not be paid better? Mechanics say that flying the new, big aircraft is a piece of cake. The ships are fully automated from engine start to touchdown. Many would agree. Flying an Airbus or a Boeing is pretty easy today. For the most part, just push the buttons.
Flying a Connie, DC3, or a Convair was and is much tougher stuff. So why are today's captains of the Boeing and Airbus family paid so much? Simple, they have a more aggressive representation! There is no reason for mechanics to tolerate low wage structures. Flight crews would probably agree.
In the ongoing litigation against the mechanics for example, the company alleges a joint effort slowdown. Mechanics are simply following the FARs to the letter. ATC people do it all the time by simply applying the FARs rigidly. They seem to get away with it. Why not the mechanics?

The lawsuit
In any lawsuit, one side can seek information from the other. It is called "discovery." There are several ways to do this. One way is by subpoena of documents and other things. In this case, a mechanic employed by the big airline happens to have his own personal website. (www.the-mechanic.com). He invites other mechanics, or anybody for that matter, to write to him on his bulletin board and exchange thoughts on many things, including the lawsuits that are pending. I, although not a litigant or witness, have logged onto the site.
In November, this man (who could be you or anybody), received a subpoena notice from the opposing lawyers demanding that he provide them a laundry list of information including his computer files and the identities of all who log onto the site. Most who log on do so using a pen name. I have to presume that I am included since I logged on. The subpoena required that the man provide—among other requested items.
"—all information supplied by each individual up for or registering to post a comment on any of the sites bulletin boards (including mail address), all comments/messages posted by each individual prior to editing, Internet protocol address for each individual, the true name, address, and telephone number of each individual, the name address and telephone number of the Internet service provider for each individual, and any other information relating to these individuals that the (site) monitors, or that the site is capable of tracking or monitoring."
This is just part of the overall request for information, but it shows the extent to which the lawyers are interested in tracking down names and addresses of other mechanics who log on to the site and what they say.

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