MINNEAPOLIS, Oct. 26 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Air Line Pilots Association, Int'l (ALPA), which represents the pilots of Pinnacle Airlines, Inc. (Pinnacle), filed suit in U.S. District Court Thursday against Pinnacle management. ALPA asserts that Pinnacle violated the Railway Labor Act (RLA), the federal statute that governs contract negotiations in the airline industry, when it unilaterally implemented pilot bonus programs by changing the status quo pay and working conditions of the pilots without first bargaining and reaching agreement with ALPA.
"Pinnacle management is circumventing the law and this Union in its attempt to address our pilot shortage, which is caused by low pay and inferior working conditions. The company should be focused on working cooperatively with ALPA at the bargaining table for a comprehensive solution to improve pay and working conditions for all Pinnacle pilots as quickly as possible," said Capt. John Prater, president of ALPA. "We cannot and will not allow any management team to undermine our Union's legal right to negotiate fair wages and work rules for pilots."
Pinnacle pilots and management have been negotiating for a new contract since February 2005, and have been in federally mediated negotiations since September 2006.
Pinnacle management met with Union leaders a few months ago to discuss the implementation of bonus programs -- one to recruit new pilots and one to reward existing employees who referred a pilot who was ultimately hired by the company. The Union leaders informed Pinnacle management that implementing such bonus programs without first bargaining and reaching agreement with ALPA would impermissibly alter the current "rates of pay, rules and working conditions of Pinnacle pilots without prior negotiation," which is a violation of the RLA.
The Union made it clear to Pinnacle that it was quite willing to help the carrier with its serious pilot recruitment and retention problems, which are the result of Pinnacle's substandard pay and working conditions, by properly negotiating a bonus program as part of overall pay and working condition improvements in the negotiations for a new contract, but that request was summarily rejected by management and the bonus programs were unilaterally implemented by Pinnacle. ALPA has since reiterated its demand that Pinnacle first bargain and reach agreement over these issues, which the carrier again rejected.
ALPA believes that Pinnacle's actions violate numerous provisions of the RLA and are obviously designed to evade the union and the carrier's collective bargaining obligations. ALPA is therefore asking the court to direct Pinnacle to properly deal with ALPA as the exclusive collective bargaining representative of Pinnacle pilots, to bargain in good faith and complete all required mediation procedures under the RLA before implementing such changes to Pinnacle pilots' pay and working conditions, refrain from otherwise undermining ALPA as the bargaining representative of the Pinnacle pilots; and to require Pinnacle to cease and desist from utilizing these bonus programs in the future unless it first bargains with and secures ALPA's agreement.
Pinnacle Airlines fly more than 700 daily Northwest Airlink flights to more than 100 cities across the United States and Canada with a fleet of 139 Canadair Regional Jet (CRJ) - 200s.
Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world's largest pilot union representing more than 60,000 cockpit crewmembers at 42 airlines in the U.S. and Canada. Visit the ALPA website at http://www.alpa.org.
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