Comair, Attendants Reach Tentative Deal

Comair, the subsidiary of Delta Air Lines Inc., and the union representing its 970 flight attendants said Friday the two sides have reached a tentative agreement on concessions.

The tentative agreement comes four days after Comair announced that it would impose wage cuts and changes in work rules for the regional airline's flight attendants beginning Nov. 15. Comair has said that it must have the concessions to emerge from bankruptcy protection.

The president of Local 513 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters said the deal would be for four years, caps health insurance payments and provides financial assistance to the company.

"We recommend that our fellow flight attendants vote in favor of this proposal," said local President Connie Slayback.

Slayback declined to release a dollar figure for the package of concessions, but said they included a 7.5 percent across-the-board pay cut and job protection if Delta sells Comair.

The Atlanta-based Delta has said it has no plans to sell Comair, but has not ruled out the possibility.

Slayback said Friday that the union believed the tentative deal was the best one that could be negotiated for its members.

Tressie Long, a spokeswoman for Comair, said Friday that the company would not comment on details of the proposed agreement until the union informs its members.

"We are pleased to reach an agreement after several months of hard work on everyone's part," Long said.

A federal bankruptcy judge in July gave Comair permission to throw out its contract with the flight attendants. The attendants had threatened to go on strike if Comair imposed concessions.

Comair, based in Erlanger, Ky., near Cincinnati, has said it needed $7.9 million a year in concessions from the flight attendants as part of a package of cuts from the flight attendants, pilots and mechanics.

Like Delta, Comair, which has 6,500 employees and operates 882 flights daily to 103 cities, is trying to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy filed last year.

Slayback said that the flight attendants will vote on the proposed pact by Nov. 14.

Results of the vote are to be announced Nov. 14, but a federal bankruptcy court would have to approve any deal. If approved, the agreement would take effect Dec. 31 unless Comair's pilots and mechanics unions reach deals with the airline before that date, Slayback said.

Comair said Monday when announcing that it would impose concessions that it had tried since last November to reach a deal with the flight attendants. The company said that even with the adjustments to the contract that include an average pay cut of 7.5 percent, its attendants would remain the highest paid in the regional airline industry. The average flight attendant salary is $29,950 and the average pay cut is $2,250.

Union officials said at the time that they were willing to continue negotiations but would use all of their options to protect the interests of the flight attendants.

Jim Hoffa, Teamsters general president, said in a statement Friday that the tentative agreement "ensures that the flight attendants remain the best-paid flight attendants in the regional carrier industry."

Comair is continuing to seek deals with its pilots and mechanics.


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