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Comair Pilots Ready to Walk the Walk...

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Comair Pilots Ready to Walk the Walk...

Old 23rd Mar 2001, 06:24
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Question Comair Pilots Ready to Walk the Walk...

Not UK news but these guys are trying to get $100K a year as commuter pilots...

Hope it works!


Comair cancels flights in anticipation of strike

March 22, 2001
Web posted at: 4:09 PM EST (2109 GMT)

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Comair canceled approximately 10 flights Thursday in advance of a potential strike by its pilots' union and a spokeswoman predicted more would be canceled Friday.

If a strike is called Monday, the airline will cancel all flights, the company said in a statement.

Pilots for the nation's second-largest commuter airline have threatened to walk off the job Monday if they can't agree on a new contract with Comair.

Comair operates 323 daily flights to 95 cities out of its Cincinnati hub.

Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines, where 10,000 Delta pilots are poised to strike later this spring, could also be affected, since Comair is a feeder for Delta.

Nick Miller, Comair spokesman, said a contract offer that was rejected would have made Comair's pilots the best paid among regional airlines.

He said the company offered pay increases of up to 43 percent over several years, enhanced 401k retirement benefits, better work rules and more job security. Miller said a regional jet captain making an average of $70,000 a year could make $100,000 by 2004.

The union wants its regional pilots to be compensated on the same scale as major airline pilots. The union's stance is that an airline pilot should earn the same income whether flying for a regional airline or a national one. The dispute is being closely watched by the industry.

Bush not expected to intervene
Talks began in June 1998 between Comair and its 1,400 pilots. Mediation was unsuccessful through 1999 and 2000. Talks are scheduled to take place Friday and over the weekend; a 30-day cooling-off period ends at midnight Sunday.

If no agreement is reached by then, the two sides could agree to extend the deadline of the "cooling-off" period and continue negotiations or the pilots' union could choose to call for a strike. President Bush could also convene an emergency board, a move that would block a strike.

Though Bush intervened in the Northwest mechanics dispute, Comair officials predicted he would not do so in this one.

Comair is second only to American Eagle among commuter airlines. In 1993, it became the first commuter service to use jets. The airline operates 110 small jets and eight prop planes. Comair has almost 5,500 employees.

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Old 26th Mar 2001, 09:46
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With a few minutes to go before the deadline, this looks serious...


Comair cuts all flights as pilots strike looms

March 25, 2001
Web posted at: 4:48 PM EST (2148 GMT)

ERLANGER, Kentucky (CNN) -- With a pilots' strike looming and the White House reluctant to step in, commuter carrier Comair announced it would cancel all flights through Monday evening.

Comair spokeswoman Meghan Glynn said talks with federal mediators between the airline and its pilots had ceased Sunday, and the second-largest commuter carrier would cancel all flights through 6 p.m. Monday from its Cincinnati hub. With a midnight Sunday strike deadline approaching, Glynn said pilots' union negotiators have told the company it was unwilling to back off its demands.

"We remain hopeful that negotiations will resume soon, and Comair management is willing to resume negotiations with union leaders at any time," she said.

Comair is urging passengers to check the status of their flights before arriving at the airport, by doing one of the following:

Call Comair reservations at 1-800-354-9822
Go to www.comair.com

Union officials Sunday accused Comair of abandoning the talks. Capt. Paul Lackie, a spokesman for Comair's pilots, said the company had offered a settlement that was "completely unacceptable" and walked away from the bargaining table.

"The major issues that have been on the table for the last three years remain on the table. They're just being neglected," he said.

Comair will end up canceling about 750 flights out of its Cincinnati hub, Glynn said. It will try to accommodate passengers on Delta Air Lines or other carriers, she said.

The company urged passengers to check the status of their flights before arriving at the airport by calling Comair reservations at 1-800-354-9822 or visiting www.comair.com.

Bush unlikely to intercede
The union wants its regional pilots to be compensated on the same scale as major airline pilots, and Lackie said the airline's 1,400 pilots are prepared to walk out over the issue.

"If that's what it takes, then that's what we'll have to do," he told CNN.

If no agreement is reached by midnight Sunday, the two sides could agree to extend the deadline of the "cooling-off" period and continue negotiations, or the pilots' union could choose to call for a strike.

The White House said Sunday there was little chance Bush would intercede in the dispute. Unless mediators decide that a strike by Comair would cause significant harm to a region of the country, Bush cannot act to head off a strike.

"Unless and until the National Mediation Board makes such a determination, the president's hands are tied," White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said. And a senior administration official told CNN the board appears unlikely to do that.

Bush did set up a presidential emergency board in the dispute between mechanics and management at Northwest Airlines, preventing a strike from taking place, but the National Mediation Board had determined a strike by the mechanics would cause significant harm to the country.

Airline industry watching Comair dispute
Comair began canceling flights last week to prevent passengers and employees from being stranded in case of a strike. Comair is a feeder for Delta, and any strike at Comair also could affect the Atlanta-based airline.

The dispute is being closely watched by the industry. Talks began in June 1998 between Comair and its 1,400 pilots. Mediation was unsuccessful through 1999 and 2000.

The union's stance is that an airline pilot should earn the same income whether flying for a regional airline or a national one.

Last week, pilots rejected a proposed contract that would have given them a company-funded retirement program, which was extended last year to Comair's other employees. It also would have increased the pay of top-scale pilots from $66,000 to $96,000.

"No one wants a contract as much as we do -- one that respects us as real airline pilots and pays us as real airline pilots," Lackie said Saturday.

Comair is second only to American Eagle among commuter airlines. In 1993, it became the first commuter service to use jets. The airline operates 110 small jets and eight prop planes. Comair has almost 5,500 employees.

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Old 26th Mar 2001, 10:23
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Looks like it's official...


Comair Pilots Launch Strike, Condemn Management for
Abandoning Negotiations

WASHINGTON, D.C.---The following statement was issued today
by Captain J.C. Lawson, chairman of the Comair pilots'
Master Executive Council, a unit of the Air Line Pilots
Association (ALPA).

"As of 12:01 a.m. EST, on March 26, Comair pilots are on
strike. Following more than three years of fruitless
negotiations, management's team abandoned negotiations on
Sunday, assuring a strike. They walked away with several
hours left -- plenty of time if they would just get real --
before the strike deadline. Following the Comair pilots'
overwhelming rejection of management's settlement offer, we
returned to Washington, D.C., verified our latest proposals
from pilot surveys, and presented to management our
requirements for change. Comair management refused to
respond to those offers, and made no effort to respond all
weekend. With so much at stake, management's abandoning of
the negotiating process is outrageous.

"We have negotiated with Comair management for more than
three years to achieve a fair contract that recognizes our
real worth to this company. Comair pilots start with salary
of $15,000 per year. In addition, average salaries for our
highly trained pilots, who have numerous years of flight
experience and advanced education, are incredibly low for an
airline of this size, sophistication, and profitability. In
response to our concerns about compensation, retirement,
work rules, and job security, our management has generally
offered nothing more than numbers that sounded great but
didn't add up. They have continued to negotiate using smoke,
mirrors, and slight of hand. Unfortunately, management has
refused to address our issues at the negotiating table prior
to our strike deadline, leaving us with no choice but to
walk away from our livelihoods to get the contract that we

"Our proposals are fair and reasonable, especially for an
airline as immensely profitable and successful as Comair.
Thus far, management's proposals have fallen far short of
any pilot group in our circumstances. Nonetheless, we remain
fully committed to working with management to resolve this
situation. After all, we are professional airline pilots,
and we want to be flying, not walking the picket line."


Captain Duane Woerth, President of the Air Line Pilots
Association, said, "Unfortunately, this management's failure
to make a serious effort to reach an agreement at this late
date is all too familiar. It explains why they made no
movement at the bargaining table since their settlement
offer of March 2, 2001. It's why these negotiations have
inched along over three years, and it's why the pilots are
so unified and motivated to stand up for a real contract.
The Comair pilots have the full support of ALPA's 59, 000
pilots behind them."

Comair pilots have been in contract negotiations since June
1998 and in mediation since July 1999.

Formed in 1931, ALPA is the world's oldest and largest
pilots union, representing 59,000 airline pilots at 49
carriers in the United States and Canada. Its Web site is at
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Old 26th Mar 2001, 10:56
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Enough years of healthy regional airline profits, whose cash flow has been subsidized for decades by not only low-paid Captains, but especially propjet or fanjet First Officers. This applies to many multi-engine cargo aircraft operations (Fokker 27, Shorts 360s etc).

Due to the miserable pay, which must be accepted out of sheer necessity while beginning maybe the most critical step in a civilian flying career: the vital acquisition of PIC multi-engine turbine experience, pilots often are forced to live with three or four roommates in the cheapest, seedy, more dangerous areas of our cities (is this true in Britain/Europe etc?).

The majority of these First Officers are paid about one or two hundred US dollars per month (BEFORE taxes) above US minimum wage, with most regional airlines refusing any company-subsidized retirement funds (the 401K consists of pilots' before-tax contributions)!

Hang in there COMAIR pilots!

[This message has been edited by Ignition Override (edited 26 March 2001).]
Old 26th Mar 2001, 11:23
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Ignition Override: The 401K could have company contributions (My co. pays 9% the first 5 yrs, 12% for yr 5-15 and 15% yr 15 and after). Granted, this was tough to negotiate. Comair offered what it voluntarily gives to its other employees which is most likely next to nothing. I really appreciate the generous Comair pilots who regularly offer their jumpseats and I wish them the best. I'm an ALPA pilot that lives near CVG and have the next few days off as well as reserve this week, so I would be happy to walk the picket line with you if you wish.
Old 26th Mar 2001, 15:46
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To me it sounds like: Comair = Crossair! (over here in Europe). Big regional, big money, "small" aircrafts. Very small salaries (at least for the pilots , rest of staff paid in line with other airlines, even majors) Come on guys, cut the crap about aircraft size (or has that some to do with ego?)and give us some real respect and the wages that we deserve

Go for it guys, all the best!

... cut my wings and I'll die ...
Old 26th Mar 2001, 16:14
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Tell me your view please. Why regional drivers shoud earn less than others? All the time I was unable to understood (even being airline commercial!) why airlines making difference in salary of (let's say) 340/777 and 320/737 captains? Or another example when morning+evening flights operated on 737/320 while daytime flights on ATR72/F50 to the same destination, but captain of 737 getting much more money for the same job.
Especially considering short legs, more T/O and landings in average, less automatics on small airplanes, etc.
I appreciate airlines who paying the same salary to pilots of 200-tones and 25-tones MTOW aircraft in case both pilots have similar experience.

Old 26th Mar 2001, 23:56
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I understand that Delta Management (Owns Comair) is refusing the jumpseat to Comair brothers trying to get home. Let's all make a concerted effort to accomodate these guys in our jumpseats and not bump them when you're jumpseating during these trying times, they're already under enough stress. Indirectly they're doing all of us a favor by fighting to eliminate the great divide in pay and benifits that Delta management has been exploiting.
Old 27th Mar 2001, 01:46
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fly4fud - good observation.
Old 27th Mar 2001, 02:01
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CargoOne - Airline pay has traditionally been tied to size of aircraft, and by extension, profitability. The theory being that larger aircraft make more profit, hence higher salary. There's a good bit of truth in that, but you need to get one thing very clear in your brain ----- You get paid what you negotiate. All the bellyaching in the world about how hard you work, how what you do is the same as a major, won't get you anything by spilling your spleen in this forum. If your not in a union company, you're crazy. If you are, it's about time that you regional guys wake-up and do something about it, like maybe COMAIR pilots are now. Your brothers in the majors are willing to support, but its YOUR FIGHT. Don't ask anyone else to do it for you. Management is counting on regional pilots being fragmented due to the large amount of attrition and movement through the ranks. It's incumbent upon YOUR union leadership to LEAD. Get with it.
Old 27th Mar 2001, 02:11
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Good Luck to the Comair folks...

Thankfully I have a second job and live with my parents, or I'd have to be in a seedy little apartment in the low rent part of town too. I'll soon be upgrading into the Saab 340 at my company and I will just be about making what I was as a expat flying the Metro from the right seat.

Granted, we won't be making the same as a wide body skipper, nor should we, but we need to have a pension so that for those who retire form the regional/national airlines have something to fall back on.

My company opeartes 30 passenger turbo-props and 69 passenger regional jets, and hopefully soon 50 seat RJ's as well. It would be nice to look forward to a future where we didn't have to leave to good to another airline just so we can feed our families! I would have no problem flying for this company as long as the benifits were in line with the job we are preforming.

Our passengers assume that we, the regional pilots, are under the same contract as the majors that we are code sharing with. When I tell people at my second job that I'm a pilot, most assume that I make "big bucks", if they only knew.

We have a right to live comfortably and need to be paid for the job that we do. We are no longer flying C-402's or Beech 99's. We are flying, in some cases, more sophisticated equipment the are major partners.

The salaries of the regional pilots need to come into line with the times.

Thnaks for setting the bar a little higher Comair.

Sorry I got a little windy there, but I just had to speak my peace.

I guess Bush must not think we're very important, but just ask all the Comair passengers how important we are! Thanks alot Georgey!

Old 27th Mar 2001, 03:52
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It's almost a historic case of economic incest - paying the beginning pilots slave wages. Unfortunately, their 'big brothers' typically seem to say, "Do it to little Billy; not me."

As a result, management always has a successful wedge to drive between the pilots.

The ComAir crisis is about conditioning the new-entrants. Notice what extremes management will go to in order to achieve that tradition in the industry - no accident.

My hat's off to the ComAir pilots. Here's hoping they are not the new Wien Airlines of 1976 fame.
Old 27th Mar 2001, 04:10
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My sympathies to you at Mesaba. Paul Foley, your CEO, used to be at Atlas Air. There were high-fives among the crew force when he left.
Old 27th Mar 2001, 18:54
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It's certainly true that you only get paid for what you negotiate and not for perceived worth. As far as the airline managements are concerned a base line package is federally mandated minimum wage with working conditions determined by the FAR's. We all of course know how that plays out due to the FAA putting commerce before safety.

Congratulations to the comair pilot group for having the tenacity to make a stand. I hope they achieve what they're after yet I still think, irrespective of any contract enhancements, that the path to a successful career is found by securing employment at a major carrier rather than pinning your hopes to pie in the sky dreams of seniority list integration and future contractual gains.

[This message has been edited by XL5 (edited 27 March 2001).]
Old 27th Mar 2001, 19:30
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XL5 -

We agree, however, remember also that the commuters are often the 'last hurrah' for many appproaching the END of their career.

I have no problem with minimum wage except for the fact that while actually performing duty for the company, the pilots don't get paid until the chocks are removed. On an average, they often fall well below minimum wage.

Often the copilots find the flight attendant on board making more money. That's a fact so shameful that you'll rarely hear the pilots admit the fact, due to the embarassment.

Something needs to change.
Old 27th Mar 2001, 20:24
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Anybody crossed the picket line yet?
Any Comair flights operating?

Keep up the Good Fight.

Men, this is no drill...
Old 27th Mar 2001, 22:52
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As far as I know no one has crossed the picket line.

This is a lock out as well as a withdrawal of services. Infact you can argue that Comair locked em out first by walking from the table and cancelling all flights.

Hows Miami?


Old 28th Mar 2001, 01:26
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"Lockout" is a bit of a stretch Wino. It sounds, however, that Comair's Union Council has got their flak vests on and are prepare to fight this thing out. You can afford a month off of work alot more than management can. Delta's gonna get tired of not having their feeder feeding.

. . . . Steady gentlemen, keep your nerve and wait for management to crack.
Old 28th Mar 2001, 02:04
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Miami is cool Wino.
(Now flying the line and enjoy it)
Hows NY?

As for Comair on strike:
13 years ago I was also Twin Turboprop Commuter captain for a major's feeder.
My salary was $1,600.00 per month, based on 80 hours and $20.00 per hour.
Yes, we joined ALPA and we fought to get what was more in line with the job responsibility and hours.
We finally did.

My hat off to Comair for having balls to walk the walk and talk the talk.

(I bet them Eagle guys are watching this one real close... )

Men, this is no drill...
Old 28th Mar 2001, 02:52
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>>"Lockout" is a bit of a stretch Wino.<<

I'd have to agree with Wino on this one. No flights are being operated, so no opportunity to cross the picket line, to go flying anyway.

Delta can cover much of Comair's schedule (e.g. CVG-ATL) with mainline and Express flights. Pax bookings are off anyway for several reasons so DAL has a lot of staying power in this one even with the reduction in capacity. This is being branded as a Comair strike, not a Delta Connection strike by the media so not too much collateral damage yet.

The Comair pilots attempted to force Delta ALPA to place them on the mainline seniority list last year. It didn't work. It remains to be seen how much real support there is for considering commuter pilots to be the same as airline pilots for pay purposes. Like many of us here, I've worn both uniforms (a few times) so I know the difference in status whether right or wrong. The cornerstone of ALPA's success with book rates has been pay for weight, even though I'll be the first to admit that the commuter pilot is the hardest working man in showbusiness. ALPA has a history of talking down to the commuters and freight dogs, will be interesting to see if they can overcome this in the present situation.

Also, Delta sees this strike as a prelude to a possible strike by their mainline pilots so they are ready to dig in and make a statement. As are the Comair pilots, I'm sure.

Most of these strikes end after a few days with both sides declaring victory. However, sometimes things don't go as planned as we all know.

Hope this one has a happy ending soon...
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