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Old 04-03-2007, 11:43 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Union at SkyWest??

So I've been doing a bit of research on SkyWest, and came across a posting on a thread discussing unionization at Colgan that peaked my interest. Tebpilot mentioned that there is a union drive at SKW. I tried to search and find some info on this, but didn't find anything too specific. Is there a pretty large group of pilots who are in favor of unionizing? Does it look like there will be a push for unionization in the near future?

In the coming months I'll be eligible to start applying to regionals, and have only recently started looking at SKW as a possible option for me. I'm just curious what some people have to say, if they have any information or feeling from their own experience or people they know who work there.

I've read the arguments for and against unions, and I'm hoping this thread avoids the usual fight that ensues when the word is mentioned. I want to try my best to avoid working for a non-union carrier, just because of my own personal views, which is why I'm interested in learning a bit more about SkyWest. Thanks for any input.
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Old 04-03-2007, 12:10 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Generally, unions are a necessity in this industry. Unfortunately they have done a very poor job representing regional pilot groups, with a few notable exceptions. Many regional pilots feel that major airline interests are the priority at alpa, and that regional interests are at best neglected, or worst case actually sabotaged to advance mainline interests. There have even been lawsuits filed against alpa due to this belief.

Mesa is far and away the worst large regional in the country, and they have been alpa for years...what's wromg with that picture? There are many experienced regional pilots who are violently opposed to alpa due to their own experiences. As far as alpa at the regional level, I'm a fence sitter but my previous alpa experience certainly left me with no reason whatsoever to believe, trust, or support alpa.

Skywest does not have a union because the company has historically had a very positive atmosphere and very good payscales. The pay and QOL has eroded since 9/11 and SKW is probably headed in the direction of becoming slighlty above average. If it declines too much, it is likely that alpa would get voted in but right now it seems extremely unlikely (some people beg to differ but judging by the people I talk to it's currently about 2-to-1 against).

Personally I wish we would pursue an in-house union again...it seems to work great for SWA and AA.
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Old 04-03-2007, 12:18 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Unions are only effective if the members are miserable. Don't believe me? Try to get support for a strike from people that are perfectly happy with their job.

Keep that in mind when you are making a decision about a job. In order for union leaders to get your support, they have to convince you that you are miserable enough to quit your job (temporarily) or life won't get any better.

I know that is a bitter view of unions, but if you think long enough you'll see a lot of truth to it.
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Old 04-03-2007, 12:33 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I believe that unions are a necessary evil in this business, however, I don't necessarily think ALPA is the answer. Currently at Skywest, we have no enforceable contract, no representation or protection in FAA violation/loss of medical/etc. cases, and employment is pretty much at-will. Employment can (and has been) be terminated at any time. If one desires their job back, any legal representation is on your own dime. Having said that, life is not bad at Skywest, especially compared to some other regionals. We do have good work rules and slightly above average pay.

One of my biggest fears is the rate at which we expanding and growing. As we have acquired ASA, and look like we're about to acquire another airline, the growing pains are going to be enormous. I fear what will happen if they decide to merge seniority lists at some point. If the acquired carriers are union (which ASA is), I don't know how a merge would work out. I have a feeling that us at SKYW would probably not fare too well.
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Old 04-03-2007, 12:38 PM   #5 (permalink)
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a union may not do a whole lot at the regional level (ideally youre only supposed to be there under 5 years anyway if you want to go to a major). but think about it, if youre at a place for your ENTIRE career, you want something in your back pocket. some kind of job, legal, etc protection, someone that will protect you when nobody else will. A union is not going to magically make your job better, but youll be better off for having one in the long run. how would you like to be a 15 year captain fired on the spot with no real appeals process? How would you like to be at an airline with a fake grievance process? if you want to use skywest at a stepping stone, then the union vote doesnt matter, but if youre a lifer there, time to start thinkin about some insurace. send your card in and at least see how the vote turns out. alpa at skywest is not going to wreck the place, its very possible to still maintain that healthy relationship with management. if you talk to the alpa organizing committee there, you will see theyre all level-headed guys, theyre not MILITANT like some other places and they dont want to constantly threaten management with a strike vote etc. The simply want to take the status quo and turn it into a CONTRACT. they want reps, they want legal representation, some minor work rule changes, and thats it. Management is scared sure because they think the pilots will get to greedy with it, but I dont see that happening at SKW. A good model to follow in this case would be ExpressJet.
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Old 04-03-2007, 12:48 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fatmike69 View Post
I believe that unions are a necessary evil in this business, however, I don't necessarily think ALPA is the answer. Currently at Skywest, we have no enforceable contract, no representation or protection in FAA violation/loss of medical/etc. cases, and employment is pretty much at-will. Employment can (and has been) be terminated at any time. If one desires their job back, any legal representation is on your own dime. Having said that, life is not bad at Skywest, especially compared to some other regionals. We do have good work rules and slightly above average pay.

One of my biggest fears is the rate at which we expanding and growing. As we have acquired ASA, and look like we're about to acquire another airline, the growing pains are going to be enormous. I fear what will happen if they decide to merge seniority lists at some point. If the acquired carriers are union (which ASA is), I don't know how a merge would work out. I have a feeling that us at SKYW would probably not fare too well.
SKW has no compelling reason to merge ASA and SKW into one list, and a great reason not to. A seperate certificate is pretty handy for avoiding issues like the UAL hub restriction.

If alpa gets voted in at SKW, seniority list integration with ASA will be mandatory at that point, regardless of what the company wants. The alpa policy is to integrate seniority by DOH, which would greatly benefit the more senior workforce at ASA.

If the company did merge the certificates, I'm not sure how the union issue would have to be resolved...perhaps a yes/no vote among the combined pilot group?
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Old 04-03-2007, 01:13 PM   #7 (permalink)
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SKW has no compelling reason to merge ASA and SKW into one list, and a great reason not to. A seperate certificate is pretty handy for avoiding issues like the UAL hub restriction.

If alpa gets voted in at SKW, seniority list integration with ASA will be mandatory at that point, regardless of what the company wants. The alpa policy is to integrate seniority by DOH, which would greatly benefit the more senior workforce at ASA.

If the company did merge the certificates, I'm not sure how the union issue would have to be resolved...perhaps a yes/no vote among the combined pilot group?
The merger of SKW and ASA's pilot groups doesn't mean that the company has to merge into one Ops Cert. Look at RAH (Republic, Chautauqua & Shuttle America) and MAG (Mesa, Go, Air Midwest & Freedom), SKW can still keep the two separate Ops Certs and staff them with the same labor groups.

My card is in, lets at least take it to a vote. I don't want a merger of the pilot groups but I do want a legal TA to stop the company from changing their interpretation of our polocies overnight (cancellation polocy is one of many examples).
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Old 04-03-2007, 01:20 PM   #8 (permalink)
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The worst case scenario at SKW would be for the union to pass by a razor thin margin. That would send a message to all that our union is weak and would end with Mgmnt having the upper hand in negotiations.

"Together we stand, divided we fall!" Words to live by.
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Old 04-03-2007, 01:22 PM   #9 (permalink)
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The worst case scenario at SKW would be for the union to pass by a razor thin margin. That would send a message to all that our union is weak and would end with Mgmnt having the upper hand in negotiations.
"Together we stand, divided we fall!" Words to live by.
It would be better than Losing by a razor thin margin.
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Old 04-03-2007, 01:32 PM   #10 (permalink)
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It would be better than Losing by a razor thin margin.
I would believe that to be true at most carriers but history at SKW has proven otherwise. Don't get me wrong, I'm a fence sitter with both legs on the union side. I do feel that the arguments for out weight those against and at least a union will provide us with some much needed lube. LOL
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