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Old 11-06-2009, 09:26 AM   #1  
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Default UAL MEC meltdown - scorched earth

The following are comments from the UAL negotiating committee chairman just prior to being recalled by the UAL MEC. In a classic case of "shoot the messenger", the MEC has repeatedly abrogated their responsibility to vet any agreement prior to send it to the pilots for ratification.

Two weeks ago, the current MEC chairman lost the election for another term (to a current member of the Negotiating Committee). The response was to organize the recall of the Negotiating Committee and replace the committee members with "political appointees" from the current MEC chairman's constituents. In fact, the new Negotiating Committee Chair is currently the Communications Committee Chair (a position also appointed by the MEC chair). The current communications chair is most remembered for the many failed communications/unity initiatives that only served to further divide the pilot group and has no negotiating experience.

Every MEC member that I've talked to is quick to lay blame - not one seems to acknowledge that the line pilot at UAL has lost, and lost big. The process has served to further disenfranchise an already fractured pilot group.

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Negotiating Committee Comments for MEC on Recall
Captain Tim Brown, Negotiating Committee Chairman

The MEC's action today is nothing more than political retribution by some members of the MEC that did not get their way in the MEC Officer elections held three weeks ago. I predict that the same members that did not get their way will be the same members that vote for the Recall of members of the Negotiating Committee. There may be one additional MEC member that joins this group because he is facing his own recall attempt for his support of Captain Wendy Morse.

MEC members that are supporting this recall will maintain that this is not "Political Retribution" to deflect the wrath of the pilot group that disdain these petty politics. These same members have attempted to blame the Committee for a failed TA in 2007. These MEC members have attempted to blame the Committee for the "underwhelming" QWL/Fatigue LOA the MEC passed last April. These members have attempted to blame the Negotiating Committee for a Line Training Captain TA that was a result of Grievance Settlement discussions for the Company's decision to combine LCA's and Standards Captains into one position as management pilots.

Let me take each of these issues one by one and set the facts straight.

Failed 2007 TA
The failed TA in 2007 that these MEC members are blaming the Negotiating Committee for, was not once, not twice, but three times approved by the MEC. Twice the MEC directed the Negotiating Committee UNANIMOUSLY to continue with the Agreement in Principle and to bring it back to the MEC in Final Language format. The MEC knew full well what was in that 2007 TA and twice unanimously told us to continue. The third and final vote was not unanimous but the majority of the MEC accepted the 2007 TA. When the 2007 TA was sent to the pilot group, some MEC members took full responsibility and told their members that the 2007 TA was what the MEC directed the Negotiating Committee to do. The other MEC members took no responsibility for their previous two unanimous votes and blamed the Negotiating Committee for the TA. The previous LEC Vice Chairman from DEN actually told some of his members that if the pilots voted it down, the Company would come running to the pilots with a 20% pay raise because they couldn't operate the airline during the summer. This despite the fact that the SSC specifically informed the MEC that the only consequence of voting down the TA was an increase in the W flying and 8-L-6 flying in the widebody fleet. These MEC members ignored the SSC and told their pilots that we had more leverage than we had. In the end, the SSC was correct these MEC members were wrong and the Company operated the 2007 Summer schedule without falling apart using the backup plan of W's and 8-L-6's.

The QWL/Fatigue LOA
During the MEC Officer Election process, the C#34 Chairman's nomination speech for Captain Wallach gave praise to Captain Wallach for bringing a number of great agreements to the pilot group and specifically mentioned in that list of great agreements was the QWL/Fatigue LOA.

In the C#34 letter to their pilots, the C#34 LEC officers said that they found the QWL/ Fatigue LOA to be "underwhelming" despite just three weeks earlier stating it was a good agreement. It can't be both ways to suit political purposes. It can't be a great agreement for Captain Wallach's nomination speech and be underwhelming when blaming the Negotiating Committee.

Line Training Captain TA
In the C#57 letter to their pilots announcing this recall, the C#57 Captain Rep and First Officer Rep stated that "The MEC was told that this [the Line Training Captain TA] was a good agreement, and that if we did not sign it, the company would impose its own industrially advantaged LTC program." Let me be clear, the Negotiating Committee did NOT say it was a good agreement. The Negotiating Committee actually stated that we didn't care which way the MEC voted on the agreement. The Negotiating Committee reminded the MEC that the LTC TA was a result of Grievance Settlement discussions and the Company felt they had a good case to win the grievance which reduced their need to bargain a better agreement. The Negotiating Committee also reminded the MEC that the VP of Flight Ops told ALPA that absent an agreement that he would impose his own plan and if the MEC wanted to call his bluff they had to vote down the LTC TA.

Despite what C#57 said in their letter, the Negotiating Committee never said that Company would impose the TA on the pilots. We said the Company stated that absent an agreement they would impose their more onerous Company plan for making all the LTC's non-ALPA represented management pilots. During the MEC's deliberations for giving the Negotiating Committee direction for the LTC TA, there was significant concern that increasing the management ranks by over 150 pilots would greatly increase the number of possible management pilots that might operate during the strike that we will most assuredly be facing in a few short years. In Tuesday's discussions with the Company regarding the LTC TA, the Company said they would go ahead with their plans for their LTC program but would undo that and honor the TA if the MEC ratified it. The Negotiating Committee decided to bring the LTC TA to the MEC for consideration with NO recommendation because we didn't want to be the decision maker for the MEC on greatly increasing the management pilot ranks. The Negotiating Committee also reminded the MEC that the contract currently has no contractual restrictions for the Standards Captains and at least the LTC TA provided some restrictions and made these pilots ALPA represented pilots and the undeniable improvement in PI Scope.

Going Forward:
We fully expect that the MEC has made its decision and we don't expect these comments will change anyone's mind. We need to remind the MEC that it's not wrong to bring agreements to the MEC to vote down. There are some decisions that must rest fully with the MEC and the MEC should not blame the Negotiating Committee for bringing to the MEC those decisions. Up or down decisions such as this LTC TA are inappropriate for the Negotiating Committee to make. Bringing the MEC issues to decide will happen more and more frequently as the United Pilots get closer to a new Contract and the MEC shouldn't be blaming the Negotiating Committee for bringing those decisions to the MEC ... they should be applauding the Negotiating Committee for giving the MEC the opportunity to express their political will and send strong messages to the Company.

We started these comments by stating that this recall attempt was political retribution for the election of Captain Morse to the MEC Chairman position instead of re-electing Captain Wallach. There is an old adage that says "If it walks like a duck, and if it talks like a duck, and smells like a duck ... it's a duck." To be sure, this recall of the Negotiating Committee so soon after the MEC Officer election walks like "political retribution", it talks like political retribution and it smells like political retribution ... IT IS political retribution. Outgoing MEC Chairman Captain Wallach actually stated to the MEC Secretary Treasurer Captain Genovese this recall was political retribution for Wendy's election.

If certain members of the MEC need to spill blood to get past this then so be it ... but let's be honest with one another and not go on denying that this is pure and simple political retribution.

I've enjoyed serving the pilots of United Airlines. I wish us all luck because we are all going to need it.