Airline Pilot Forums

Airline Pilot Forums was designed to be a community where working airline pilots can share ideas and information about the aviation field. In the forum you will find information about major and regional airline carriers, career training, interview and job seeker help, finance, and living the airline pilot lifestyle.




View Full Version : Why are contracts so anti-member?


Capsicum
08-01-2018, 01:12 AM
First post, might as well dive in head first in the union section.:eek:
I've noticed that a lot of unions(not just pilots) negotiate some rather short sighted contracts that hamstring the members, any idea why?

My opinionated guess is that most contracts are built from band-aids and taking the path of least resistance combined with a good chunk of the membership being either old-timers dug in like ticks(thats how it was in 1873 and we liked it just fine), or completely uneducated in the ways of economics and business philosophy.

For example: the old time pensions that were completely dependent on the company both not going bankrupt and setting aside the money 40 years later, rather than tax deductible money that the member controls(most common in the form of a 401k).
Another example: making it extra difficult to switch employers. How does preventing members from moving between companies help the members? (the old "A" pension scheme is a good example, as are pay scales graduated beyond 2-3 years) Would this not erode the unity of the union as a whole, cause individual bargaining groups to isolate?

My nearby electricians union (this was 20 years ago, an IBEW local, not teamsters) seemed to have their act fairly together in this regard, likely because the nature of the game, as a company will hire a bunch of guys for a project and when its built they get laid off. The method was basically: apprentice wages were on a sliding scale based on total time, then once you got a journeyman's license it was flat rate based on the type of work (residential, low volt, industrial... like a type rating or FO and Capt) it didn't matter how many years you had sat on that license. Extra could be had for acting as a project admin.(a legally required position in this state) or some other whatnot. Retirement plan was handled by the Union, though I don't recall how the money got from the employer to the account, direct or via paycheck deductions. I do believe there was some seniority in action within the union when it came to first pick of newly posted jobs, but this is quite different from each employer and job title keeping separate seniority lists causing every little career move or company failure to put you smack back at the bottom. (not to mention all the seniority scuffles during mergers that just weaken the union)

I'm up late proof reading is now sub-par, hope to interpret this as discussion not an argument-challenge.


FollowMe
08-01-2018, 03:54 AM
Because black cat unionism that actually stood for something died long ago. Today’s unions are simply capitalist agents, negotiating the biggest slice of pie they can for their clients.

BoilerUP
08-01-2018, 05:29 AM
You might be looking for discussion and not argument, but your premise of how/why collective bargaining agreements are negotiated is one borne in both ignorance and assumption.

Retirement plans: years ago, pensions were commonplace across industries. Only in the last couple decades have defined benefit pensions largely gone away in favor of 401ks with a meager company match, and today VERY few companies still have defined benefit plans and almost all of those are due to collective bargaining agreements. DB plans are expensive to fund, especially following 9/11 bankruptcies and dumping of plans onto the PBGC. Unionized airlines have negotiated for a defined compensation retirement where X percent of their income gets deposited into an account by the company into an account owned by the employee as a hedge against future bankruptcy losses, but few employers outside these unionized companies have such DC contributions (again, most companies only offer a 3-6% 401k match).

Job portability: seniority means everything, especially in aviation. Let's say I go to Airline X and you go to Airline Y, and I start class one day before you do. Airline Y grows like gangbusters and Airline X is stagnant; five years after hire you are a Captain at Airline Y and Airline X folds. Would you be okay if I just slid over in front of you, taking your schedules and vacation? I'm gonna guess probably not, as you made a 'good' career choice and I did not. Protecting what you have is base human instinct, and in the early days of commercial aviation airlines were starting and collapsing all the time - what you see today has come from that.

There's also the issue of FAA operating certificates; while electricians are mostly 'plug and play' from one job to another, a pilot that flies a 737 for Airline X can't just sit in a 737 at Airline Y and go fly. That pilot would need to go through and successfully complete a training program from Day 1 Basic Indoctrination through IOE and Release to the Line Check.

Besides this, where is the incentive for an airline (we're educated in the ways of economics and business philosophy, right?) to hire somebody who is at year 12 on a pay scale who simply is looking for work, when they could hire somebody at year 1 that actually wants to work somewhere?

There is no national seniority list for the airline world, and the manner in which one would go about creating one would be FAR more divisive than current "siloed" Locals are.

Also, trade unions like Teamsters, UAW, IBEW, etc. fall under NLRB, not RLA like airline unions do, and the bargaining processes of the two are similar in some ways but starkly different in others.


Capsicum
08-01-2018, 07:03 PM
Not much assumption here but yes the point of starting the discussion is to test and reduce my ignorance. My comment about the economics and philosophy was not meant as an insult, people have lives to live and ops spec manuals to stare at so most won't ever have time to study hardcore business strategy. Of course on the flip side, you have the 55 year old co-workers who come up and ask "what do you know about this retirement plan business?" and after realizing they mean any retirement and not the details of the last negotiation deal, "haven't you gone to any of the dozens of free union retirement seminars in your 30 years here?", "a seminar whats now?"

As for why you would go with a traditional style pension I'm not following what you're getting at, possible I missed something.
Sure some contracts have negotiated a larger company contribution than other contracts, but that really has nothing to do with the inherent constraints or limits of a plan type.

I didn't intend the IBEW example as a direct drop in solution. (Nor was I encouraging the old "pay for training" sham.) More like take a reduced wage for the first year or two at a new company to defray the training investment risk (just the same as you currently see on nearly all FO scales) and then after that you bump all the way up to the flat "journeyman" pay for whatever weight bird your wrangling. Left and right seats still on separate scales of course.

RLA constrains the methods used in negotiating not so much the desired content of the contract.

Capsicum
08-01-2018, 07:25 PM
For the seniority portion: I was thinking seniority would be more along the lines of TT rather than years, no need for national agreements or universal databases.
When switching to shop Y voluntarily (not talking of mergers here) TT can be given a multiplier; say if you are from a different shop but the union has a reciprocal policy then give a multiplier of for example 0.95, 0.85 if from a union shop with no reciprocal policy, and 0.6 for non-union time[or student, CFI, etc].
(The multiplier is to discourage folk from playing hopscotch just to abuse the system also to appease those already in company Y.)

So why would I tolerate some other guy with similar total flight time popping in just ahead of me in seniority? Partly because I'm not a petty childish douchebag but mostly because on a large scale this strengthens the unions' side across the industry while also rewarding honest companies. If company Y negotiates real sweet contracts and they needs some pilots, while company X does all sorts of horrible mean nasty stuff when it comes to wages, then some of those pilots can leave X and come on over to Y. At this stage Y is gaining proven experienced pilots and company X is loosing pilots so can't service all of its routes, which leaves room for Y to expand service and add yet more pilot jobs under a good contract and agreeable management.

Just win win all around from my angle.

CrispyBacon
08-02-2018, 01:47 AM
So why would I tolerate some other guy with similar total flight time popping in just ahead of me in seniority? Partly because I'm not a petty childish douchebag .

There is half the problem right there. Boomers and pilots are each, more often then not, petty and childish. Who flies the bigger planes, makes more money, has more time off. Cod swinging. I feel like you are either not an airline pilot or are so new you havent figured it out yet.

Airline unions run the majority by boomers, would sell their own junior pilots jobs for an extra $1 an hour, if they thought they could win the vote. Companies like American still have strife, from the TWA merger in the early 90s. They have like 4-5 distinct 'legacy' groups within that company alone.

A significant chunk of all merger issues are which process to use in integrating the seniority lists. Seniority is everything to a pilot. Literally.

Iowa Farm Boy
09-02-2018, 08:57 AM
Airline unions run the majority by boomers, would sell their own junior pilots jobs for an extra $1 an hour, if they thought they could win the vote. Companies like American still have strife, from the TWA merger in the early 90s. They have like 4-5 distinct 'legacy' groups within that company alone.

Agree re: eating their young in previous times. AA bought TWA in early 2001, not early 90s. Yes, there are many ‘legacy’ groups within APA but most all are apathetic or such a minority as to be insignificant except the LAA guys. There is a growing demographic: newhires “below the line” and they are the future with repaidly increasing numbers of people who were stuck at regionals a long time, and are tired of Regional like contracts and unions.

galaxy flyer
09-02-2018, 02:48 PM
Job portability is the exact reason I never tried real hard at going back to an airline after EAL. Once your on board, you’re entirely dependent on the company/union and, later in life, extremely vulnerable. I changed jobs several times after EAL and never failed to improve my career and financial stability each time. Even nailed a pretty good traditional pension or two.

GF

Jet Streem
09-03-2018, 10:48 AM
Job portability is the exact reason I never tried real hard at going back to an airline after EAL. Once your on board, you’re entirely dependent on the company/union and, later in life, extremely vulnerable. I changed jobs several times after EAL and never failed to improve my career and financial stability each time. Even nailed a pretty good traditional pension or two.

GF

Care to help a lowly regional pilot out? :D

galaxy flyer
09-03-2018, 06:34 PM
Care to help a lowly regional pilot out? :D

Well, this might just be the right time to get hired at legacy and ride the conveyor belt of seniority. Unless, Lucy once again pulls the football from Charlie Brown one more time. Twenty years ago, I had guys in the squadron going bonkers over the latest contracts—huge pay increases, better rigs, pensions that made AF reserve retirement mere beer money. All gone for two decades—happened before many times, certainly possible once again.

gf

kevbo
09-03-2018, 07:00 PM
I never knew what a "non pilot" was unti l met an airline captain. I think it tells much about the mindset of the group. Who thought up a system that provided so well for rich kids? Free training, guaranteed flow into a major, and Cadillac/month wages for mearly showing up and doing what you were told! Obviously I didn't get that deal LOL!

galaxy flyer
09-03-2018, 07:36 PM
Where did you come up that bit of nonsense?

GF

kevbo
09-03-2018, 09:11 PM
This is what I hear from everyone I have ever met that doesn't fly. They really think all pilots are trained in the military and are gifted a Caddy/mo, all on the taxpayers dime. Of course there was/is a kernel of truth to this but we know it's relatively rare anymore. The term "non-pilot" is usually reserved for folks within the industry.

Rama
09-08-2018, 02:46 PM
So why would I tolerate some other guy with similar total flight time popping in just ahead of me in seniority? Partly because I'm not a petty childish douchebag but mostly because on a large scale this strengthens the unions' side across the industry while also rewarding honest companies. If company Y negotiates real sweet contracts and they needs some pilots, while company X does all sorts of horrible mean nasty stuff when it comes to wages, then some of those pilots can leave X and come on over to Y. At this stage Y is gaining proven experienced pilots and company X is loosing pilots so can't service all of its routes, which leaves room for Y to expand service and add yet more pilot jobs under a good contract and agreeable management.

Just win win all around from my angle.[/QUOTE]

Why would anyone welcome a new hire that is senior to them?
This has a huge career and quality of life impact. It would actually add to the problems within the pilot group itself.



Search Engine Optimization by vBSEO 3.6.1