AK pilots reject agreement - 89% NO
Puget Sound Business Journal (Seattle) - 3:15 PM PDT Monday
Alaska Airlines pilots reject negotiated agreement
The pilots of Alaska Airlines Inc. have overwhelmingly rejected a tentative five-year agreement between the company and union.
The union representing 1,425 pilots said in an announcement that 95 percent of the pilots cast votes, and 88.9 percent voted against accepting the new contract, which would have replaced an arbitrated two-year deal that went into effect May 1.
That arbitrated deal reduced pilot pay by 21 percent to 34 percent, with the lowest-paid, most junior pilots taking the largest cut. Although the tentative agreement (TA) called for less severe pay cuts -- a 20 percent across-the-board reduction from April 30 wages -- it would have meant five years with only one pay increase of 2 percent in 2008.
"Our pilots were faced with two choices, neither of them good," said Mark Bryant, chairman of the Alaska Airlines pilots' union. "By overwhelmingly rejecting this TA, our pilots have unequivocally said their future benefits are worth more than a little extra money in their pockets right now."
In a statement, Seattle-based Alaska (NYSE: ALK) said it believed the tentative agreement reached through negotiations with the Air Line Pilots Association offered a better long-term option for the pilots.
"We are disappointed in the outcome of the ratification vote but will move forward under the existing contract established by the arbitrator. Our present pilot contract provides a market-based cost structure that will allow Alaska Airlines to be competitive and pursue future growth," the company statement said.
The union said that because the tentative agreement failed ratification, the arbitrated contract remains in effect. However, a lawsuit filed May 13 by the Air Line Pilots Association in U.S. District Court, which asks that the arbitration award be vacated, will proceed.
Should the suit fail, the arbitrated contract can be amended in May 2007.