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View Full Version : Fedex negotiations update

Freighter Captain
05-27-2005, 09:42 AM
May 26, 2005

Negotiations Update 05-03:

The Marginalizing and Trivializing of Our Profession

We have just completed our 20th week of face-to-face negotiations with
FedEx mid-level management - twenty weeks, over fourteen months, and
more than double that many weeks spent preparing for the sessions.
Preparations include subcommittee meetings with management counterparts,
countless hours with ALPA attorneys and various Association committees
wrangling over language, trying to ensure the proper intent is conveyed.
>From our side the process is all-consuming and stressful beyond belief.
Sadly, we have very little to show for it. After considerable
introspection, we have concluded that our management wants it that way.
They have set up the process and constructed and instructed their team
so as to ensure there can be no negotiated agreement. Quid pro No.

Over the last few months we have had several different Representation
attorneys from ALPA's Washington, D.C., offices sit in during our
sessions so that we could determine whether or not the problem could be
fixed by making minor alterations on our end. Each of the observers
reached similar conclusions. It doesn't matter, they say, how we
approach the process. The problem is the process itself, as dictated by
our Company. The lead member of the management team, an employment
attorney, does not discuss problems and objectives at the table. He
doesn't engage in problem solving or even recognition of our issues.
Rather, he has forced a process of "paper pushing." He and his team
propagate full-language proposals section by section that are merely
current book with a few changes that usually have negative implications
for us. In other words, they are tickled pink with the "Agreement" they
dictated in late 1998, a period we refer to as "management labor lawyer
heaven." In response, we are forced to craft full-language proposals
that contain the entirety of our Profession's body of work in a given
area. The reply from the management side is usually no more than, "we
are not prepared to go there," "we're not interested in that," "we
believe the current language in the Agreement is adequate," or "I'm not
allowed to play in that part of the sandbox." Ee-i-ee-i-No.

For management's part this is a carefully scripted play. The current
cast includes two employment attorneys, three management pilots, a crew
scheduler, and a media relations specialist they hired for this project
about two years ago. The script has been the same since 1993.
Management resolutely gives us nothing or next to nothing in direct
negotiations, although their team is always ready to accept a giveback
should our team misstep. The script demands that the direct
negotiations cast members proffer just enough hope to keep the pilots
engaged in the never-ending process, because they believe a never-ending
grind will begin to fray the relationship between the pilots and their
professional association and embolden the weaker members to begin to
question the leadership. If and when pilot solidarity begins to become
tenuous, management will make a low-ball, take-it-or-leave-it offer that
includes only money (no work rules, health care, etc.) and then try to
cause the union leadership to descend into chaos over whether or not to
stop the interminable pain. Of course the monetary offer is really a
ruse because any gains are taken back in productivity increases that are
extracted amid the chaos and after the fact. Management's instructions
to their cast are to look to be concerned about the welfare of the
pilots, while at the same time explaining to the pilots' negotiators
that the real problem is that the Union just doesn't understand that
this lack of movement on management's part is really in the best
interests of the pilots. When that charade begins to wear thin, they
take their carefully scripted lines directly to the pilots using
whatever media and paid consultants they can assemble. It has really
been quite effective. I'm getting a No.

This untenable situation in which we find ourselves is not surprising to
anyone who has been employed on this property during past negotiations.
Management is rigorously adhering to their script ostensibly because it
has worked so well for them in the past. They are marginalizing and
trivializing us according to their time-worn plan. How, you ask? Let's
take their April 29 "offer." To be sure, it fails to recognize the four
cornerstones that form the basis of these negotiations for us: work
rules, scope, retirement security, and health care; but it is
unacceptable for a much more fundamental reason - the way it came to be.
It was never negotiated at the table. Management's employment attorney
has steadfastly and vigorously refused to discuss anything remotely
related to a dollar sign ($) with our legally enfranchised
representatives. He has gone so far as to pass management's first
several Section 5 (Traveling Expenses) proposals with blanks (______)
for the per diem amounts. When we took him to task on the blanks, he
responded with the values in the current Contract. When management
decided to bypass legitimate negotiations with this April 29 "offer"
they first bounced it around (we're told) amongst their "usual suspects"
group of management hangers-on (then, after using these poor, deluded
souls to determine how low to make their "offer" they apparently lowered
it even more.). They "marginalized and trivialized" us by stiff-arming
our professional association (and therein us) and hand-selecting a
management-friendly group with whom to conduct their discussions. They
are loath to negotiate with us, so they carefully picked a group that
presumably would neither disagree with them, nor advocate for the
legitimacy of our demands. They disregarded the well-being and quality
of life of more than 4,000 of us, and prosecuted their profit motive
with a few, well-placed pilots who run no risk of the onerous schedules
the rest of us would like to address. Quasimo-No and friends.

It is actually very likely that management's cast in this direct
negotiations phase has no authority to offer improvements in at least
three of our cornerstone issues: scope, retirement security, and health
care. It is even questionable whether or not they can play in the part
of the sandbox where our work rules reside. What we're saying is that
there appears to be no chance of achieving the Agreement we all want if
we continue to willingly play a part in this charade. The adaptation
that is currently running is far removed from the original script as
envisioned in the Railway Labor Act (RLA), and it is management who has
taken the artistic license. We prefer the original RLA process because
it is designed to produce fair agreements. We will be true to that
original script. At any rate though, after more than 12 years of this
run of management's play, it is time we re-write the ending. We are and
have been well aware of our management's stratagem of No, but in
reality, we all know that there is No strategy that can overcome 4,200
pilots committed to a just cause. We - all 4,200 of us - are at the
center of our game plan. Yes, it is time we change the dynamic at the
table. There has never been a ratifiable Agreement generated by these
management persons through this process. We have been working closely
with the MEC and officers and we are developing other plans. We will
not be led down the primrose path again. You won't either. In the end,
4,200 pilots marching in lockstep will generate our leverage.


The FEDEX MEC Negotiating Committee