CAL 153 LEC Update
Tuesday, August 7, 2012
THE DEVIL WILL BE IN THE DETAILS
As you have undoubtedly heard by now (and if you haven't, then there's a really good chance you aren't reading this blastmail either), the Joint MEC's announced that they have reached an Agreement in Principle for our Joint CBA. That basically means that the parties have reached an agreement to reach an agreement.
We have been briefed on the basics, and were able to share some of that information with a handful of our pilots before being told by our MEC Chairman that Ms. Puchala's "gag order" is still in effect (although our request to view her gag order has been denied by Chairman Pierce). So unfortunately, until we get guidance telling us we are free to discuss the contents of the AIP any more than we already have, we must abide by her edict.
It is crucial to remember that nothing is set in stone yet, and the devil is always in the details. Until we have a physical TA in front of us to examine, anything and everything is subject to change. In our case, it is expected that it will take between four to six weeks to craft this AIP into a full-language TA (assuming the company doesn't drag this out longer).
While we will reserve our judgment until we have an actual TA to study thoroughly, we do have a few comments to make.
First and foremost, our goal has been and continues to be to secure an industry leading contract for our industry leading pilots working at what is supposed to be (and has the potential to be) an industry leading airline. Obviously, our CEO agrees with that philosophy (and is leading by example), as he has not hesitated to treat himself to an industry leading pay package. Not industry standard, but industry leading. We will not support anything less.
This contract is about setting the bar for the industry- not merely trying to grasp at what another airline has decided was in their best interest. If we only strive to mimic Delta, then we are failing each other and our profession. Our airline is different, and our needs are different. Settling for industry standard also contradicts ALPA's strategy of pattern bargaining. How will we ever get ahead if we are barely keeping up with the current “standard?”
Furthermore, it comes down to that corporate catch-phrase: “dignity and respect.” Does knowing that the Company is laying just enough on the table to get 51% of our pilots to bite leave you with a feeling that they are treating you with dignity and respect? Does knowing they would choose to drag this out as long as possible in order to avoid having to pay full retro- money that you are entitled to since our contract became amendable- seem like a respectful thing to do? Finally, do you have enough self-respect to know what you are worth and not settle for something less than that?
Our ultimate leverage is the ability to go on strike. If we succumb to the fear that if we ever were to be released, we would be at the mercy of a Presidential Emergency Board or worse- a contract imposed upon us by Congress- then we fail to see the point of even having a union. We might as well turn off the lights & lock the doors. Why bother investing so much in our union if we concede that we are powerless?
Fortunately, while we do recognize the threats and risks of being released to self-help, we also recognize the potential for success. We continue to believe that is an option, even if it is a long-shot. And we don't even have to formally go on strike to accomplish some of our goals. A credible threat of a legal job action could be enough to lead us to success.
We also believe we have some leverage in unexpected places. Jeffrey is under mounting pressure as a result of his poor performance thus far. People- important people- are starting to notice that he made a lot of promises he hasn't been able to fulfill, one of which is successfully negotiating joint contracts. If he is able to complete our JCBA on his terms, this will be a big win for him, and will gain him a “stay of execution.” We are willing to bet that getting our JCBA done is more important to him than he wants us to believe. We are also willing to bet that he can reach deep into his pockets if necessary.
At a minimum it will take four to six weeks to draft the actual language for a Tentative Agreement. That is assuming the Company is motivated to wrap this up. On the other hand, if the Company is making these moves in order to placate the pilot group and the NMB, then that timeline could take much, much longer. They could easily draw this out through the rest of the summer and into the fall (or later). They could also use this as an opportunity to quell the momentum we have following the overwhelming strike vote. Past experience has taught us that even the simplest of tasks can take seemingly forever at this company- unless it is to management’s advantage to complete it. It's important that until the time comes when we are presented with an actual TA, each one of us needs to keep our guard up. Stay focused. Stay committed.
As we said earlier, we will reserve judgment until we have had a chance to thoroughly digest each and every page of the TA, and we expect you to do the same. Once we have done that, we will most certainly make ourselves available to answer any questions you have. We will not attempt to sell anything to you, but will simply do our best to provide you with factual answers. Of course, for those of you who know us- if you ask us, you can be sure that we will not be lacking in opinions.
In closing, if you have any questions or comments, we hope you will contact us and share them with us. Better yet- show up at our next Local Council meeting on Thursday August 24th from 1100-1400 at the Proud Bird. Pilots from other councils who are on layovers are welcome to attend as well. We predict it will set a new attendance record for a LC 153 meeting.
-Rob, Mike & Josh