View Full Version : U.S. DOT Intervenes in Comair Strike

5th Jun 2001, 06:03
Hope this starts the ball rolling for everyone to get back to work!


From www.aviationnow.com (http://www.aviationnow.com) :

U.S. DOT Chief Intervenes In 10-Week-Old Comair Strike

By Jim Ott

04-Jun-2001 6:12 PM U.S. EDT

In what could be a break in the 10-week-old stalemate between Comair and its striking pilots, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta has called a meeting of the union and airline leadership at 1:30 p.m. Friday in his Washington office.

A concerned telephone call last Friday from Gov. Bob Taft of Ohio and efforts by the local congressional delegations, urging the secretary to take a leadership role, prompted Mineta to set up the meeting between the two parties. The governor cited the strike's adverse effects including 2,500 layoffs, the idling of a carrier that offered 815 flights a day, a $225 million setback for parent Delta Air Lines and serious damage to regional commerce.

Taft said the strike has caused the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport to become " a less desirable destination, resulting in a ripple effect throughout the regional economy."

Bill Moseley, a Transportation Dept. spokesman, confirmed to AviationNow.com that Friday's meeting would evaluate whether it would be fruitful for labor and management to return to the bargaining table. The two sides have been far apart on compensation, retirement benefits and work rules.

The Taft telephone call followed several weeks of closed-door meetings between elected government officials and officials of Comair and its parent Delta Air Lines, and a separate series of meetings with Air Line Pilots Assn. (ALPA) leaders and congressional offices in Washington. Sen. Jim Bunning (R.-Ky.) and Reps. Ken Lucas (D.-Ky.), Steve Chabot (R.-Ohio) and Rob Portman (R.-Ohio) have been involved in efforts to bring the strike to an end. Area chambers of commerce last week launched a letter-and-e-mail writing campaign asking President Bush and Secretary Mineta to intervene.

In addition to Comair president Randy Rademacher and Comair ALPA's J.C. Lawson, chairman of the Master Executive Council, Duane Woerth, president of the Washington-based Air Line Pilots Association International, also is expected to attend.

Bringing the strike to an end will be no easy task. Comair offered two contracts to the 1,350 member pilot group over recent months but the pilots voted each down by huge margins. The second proposal, put together by the National Mediation Board, lost by 1,042-99. Airline officials have touted their proposals as industry-leading in terms of compensation, but the pilots have said the compensation was still inadequate. The pilots regard themselves as being in the vanguard of regional pilots who seek significant changes in retirement and work rules, which they claim are an unsafe relic of the years when regional carriers were short-haul, piston-engine operations.

Over the last 70 days, Comair has laid off 2,500 employees and deferred delivery of 18 CRJ-200 aircraft, returned eight leased CRJs, released 20 others and closed out its fleet of nine EMB-120 Brasilias. It also has abolished 400 of the 1,350 pilot jobs.

The strike has been marked by strong, entrenched positions. Comair pilots secured support of ALPA pilots at Delta and its other subsidiary carriers not to fly "struck work." At the same time, they have welcomed new Comair and Delta airline rivals into the former Comair network of 815 flights per day so that economic pressures would increase on Delta.

On Monday, Air Canada began twice daily service from Cincinnati to Toronto. Mesa Airlines and Atlantic Coast Airlines are expected to launch new services to and from Cincinnati in the next two months.