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JonnyKnoxville 04-26-2018 06:16 AM

A Brief Recap of Atlas Negotiating History

Fellow Atlas Crew Members,

With so many new Atlas crew members, I receive regular inquiries about the lengthy labor history at Atlas and how we got to where we are today. Sadly, there is nothing new to the position Atlas management has historically taken. In this message, I will attempt to cover our 19-year negotiating history as briefly as possible and still give you an accurate perspective of what management is attempting to perpetrate on our pilot group and families, yet again.

In late 1999, Polar Air Cargo achieved its first union CBA under ALPA with a priority put on work rules and quality of life provisions, rather than compensation.

In 2001, Atlas Air purchased Polar Air Cargo from General Electric and thus began a somewhat disjointed merger and acquisition process. Although Atlas had purchased Polar, its leadership did not know exactly how to integrate Polar. Throughout the initial years of being under the same management structure relations grew strained – not only between the Polar MEC and Atlas MEC, but also between the Polar MEC and Atlas management in Purchase, NY. Atlas management worked constantly to leverage the pilots, pitting both groups against each other. While this worked well for management, it was to the detriment of the pilots. Polar’s CBA became amendable in 2002 and after three years of manipulating the pilot group and stonewalling at the negotiating table, the Polar pilots chose to strike in 2005. The successful 20-day strike, came to a close only when both the Atlas and Polar pilot groups finally started working together. Unfortunately, this strike was followed by a weak back-to-work agreement, reached in part due to an APLA representative’s mistaken assumption that the company would follow through in good faith if the pilots extended some good will in entering a critical post-strike negotiation. This included prematurely taking down the Polar picket, which gave away precious union leverage before ever beginning negotiations. The results were predictable. In essence, after a 20-day pilot strike, the resulting negotiation yielded little if anything more than what the company had offered before the strike. The Polar pilots came away with very modest raises and not much more.

In 2002, the Atlas pilots achieved their first union CBA. It provided better compensation than the Polar contract, but it contained some inferior work rules and quality of life provisions. Both CBAs were fashioned from an ALPA first contract blueprint. They were very basic and trailed behind the rest of the industry.

In 2004, before the Polar strike, Atlas and Polar had been thrust into bankruptcy after years of upper management officials’ excessive management compensation and a long history of loading up the company with massive debt, mostly attributed to aircraft acquisitions (sound familiar?). Both Atlas and Polar managed to come out of bankruptcy that same year after erasing over $900 million dollars off the balance sheet, a sizable amount for an airline with only 46 aircraft.

Along the way, the Atlas pilots were also able to negotiate modest raises, but nothing remotely close to any industry standard. Atlas and Polar pilots could not get on the same page and thus continued to play into the company’s hands. In 2008, after years of frustration and movement towards a joint CBA, a movement was started by the Atlas pilots to seek representation with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT). ALPA had come out with policies and opinions against the ACMI business as a whole; a business model that Atlas was and is still built upon. The move was successful and in late 2008, the Atlas and Polar pilots left ALPA and became part of the Teamsters. Before both pilot groups left ALPA, the merged seniority list was delivered to Atlas management thus triggering the amalgamation process and an arbitrated CBA.

Management initially offered a “dual track” expedited system and promised a CBA in nine months, further indicating that management would not hold an arbitrator to the “amalgamation standard” (sound familiar?). The Atlas and Polar pilots sat down at the table in good faith, expecting management to honor its promises to expeditiously negotiate a new joint CBA. Atlas management, of course, did nothing of the kind. The promised nine-month process took close to two years. Under oath, in the arbitration process, we learned that Atlas intentionally delayed the CBA for over a year at the apparent behest of DHL. In the resulting arbitration, virtually the first words out of the company’s high priced “Hollywood” lawyer was an admonition that the arbitrator did not have the authority to go outside the parameters of the Atlas and Polar CBAs thus triggering the “amalgamation standard”. Finally, in September of 2011, an amalgamated five-year CBA was produced.

Even though the merger of the two airlines never occurred, and to this very day, as everyone can all plainly see, Atlas and Polar have never been merged. Atlas management benefited from the misapplication of the provisions of both CBAs in order to take advantage of the merger provisions at the table and yet never actually merged the airlines as promised. This manipulated process produced a combined CBA based on a template of two first-time contracts. The combined Atlas/Polar CBA is now woefully behind the rest of industry. While everyone was relieved that the process was finally over, all understood that management had distorted a provision in the scope language of both CBAs to keep pilot work rules and pay well below industry standard. In fact our present CEO “crowed” to analysts and investors after the CBA was signed that the effective expense increase for the pilot workforce was only around seven percent. Through this manipulated and distorted process, the Atlas and Polar pilots were deprived of a ratification vote by the amalgamation process. To date, for the legacy Atlas and Polar pilot groups respectively, 16 and 18 years have elapsed since any pilot has voted or been able to ratify a true negotiated CBA here at Atlas. If management gets its way through the courts and the current attempted arbitration process, it will again deny all of us another opportunity to vote on our future and ratify a CBA, possibly for the next decade or more.

All of the above leads us to our current negotiations, in which this same management group is holding out on all of the major provisions of the CBA for (wait for it)…an AMALGAMATION. Management’s tactics and playbook are exactly the same as last time, as are the promises and assurances. All the while, the same catastrophic damage is being inflicted on our pilot group and our families. Of course the executives couldn’t care less, as they continue to line their pockets with the highest salaries in the airline industry, lavish bonuses and obscene perks. All this, while saddling the company with an increasingly unmanageable debt and passing on desirable lucrative contracts.

Many of you ask, “Why do we still sit and negotiate with a group that engages in such bad faith and has such a long history of doing so?” The answer is simple, we are bound by the Railway Labor Act (RLA) to negotiate in good faith and we are committed on our side to bargain in good faith, as will be evident to the NMB or an arbitrator if that is the path we are forced to travel.

The current Framework Agreement extension ends June 1, 2018, so we will see what happens after that. For now, it appears certain that the company is dragging this process out just so they can get to the well one more time to enjoy yet another misapplication of the current CBA merger provisions.

As we move forward, we have something labor rarely has in dealing with any management group. We have a long and sordid management track record on which to rely. When this management group makes promises and assertions, they have one big problem; their track record precedes and betrays them. As discussed, it is a negotiating history based upon broken promises, reneging on deals and commitments. It is one of telling crew members only half of the story, misusing and manipulating language in the CBA (like in the recent strike language arbitration, when management’s history was totally exposed and justifiably denied by the arbitrator) and the list goes on. I can assure you we will NEVER again fall for such false promises, half-baked truths and deals on which management can renege. In short, we maintain the advantage of having “seen this movie before”.

I know the process to achieve a new CBA is long and arduous; the last one took 6-8 years, depending on whether you were Atlas or Polar. This one will not take as long, as Atlas cannot survive it. Already past the point of no return, even the most optimistic of business viewpoints, it will take years if not an entire decade for this company to recover from this current management-imposed fiasco. Indeed, there are now only a very few “executive level” managers who believe in the current company strategy or who haven't buried their heads in the sand as Atlas and Southern continue to wither. It is now clear that the executive suite has lost not only the confidence of the Atlas and Southern pilots, but most of the airline’s employees and middle management as well. Parked aircraft, large amounts of open time, cancelled flights and angry customers do not lead anyone, except the very top few that Atlas is in anything other than steep decline. Hiding the pilot shortage and pilot retention problems behind false maintenance listings is all part of this desperate management’s scheme to hide the real disaster they have brought upon themselves.

The fastest and best way to get a new CBA remains through direct, good faith negotiations. It is the only thing that can save Atlas from further irreparable harm. It is also the way to the industry-standard CBA we all deserve. The more unity, resolve, and contract compliance we maintain, the faster we will get a new CBA. There are several picketing events coming up in May and June, so come out and participate in force like the recent CVG event to show our solidarity.

We are a strong, cohesive pilot group and for that teamwork I am convinced we will ALL be rewarded.

As usual, I thank all of you for your support. We will prevail and break the string of amalgamated, inferior, bottom level CBAs that this pilot group has had inflicted upon it for so many years.

Remember, always be “ALL-IN”.

Fraternally,

Bob K.
Atlas Executive Council Chairman

wjcandee 07-27-2018 11:42 AM

Any guesses about what happens now to N641GT after the hard landing at PSM this morning? Bang Ding Ow!

Maybe a line of speed tape all the way around the crease the runs the circumference of the fuselage?

The soldiers' photos and comments are priceless. Good news that nobody hurt. (Obviously no personal injury lawyers around to explain that lower back pain isn't medically-provable or disprovable.)

gumpscheck 07-27-2018 02:18 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by wjcandee (Post 2643573)
Any guesses about what happens now to N641GT after the hard landing at PSM this morning? Bang Ding Ow!

Maybe a line of speed tape all the way around the crease the runs the circumference of the fuselage?

The soldiers' photos and comments are priceless. Good news that nobody hurt. (Obviously no personal injury lawyers around to explain that lower back pain isn't medically-provable or disprovable.)

Maybe Joe Hete will remove one -300 from the ABX fleet and give it to Atlas. He likes to do stuff like that.

RunsWithScissor 07-27-2018 03:55 PM

talent pool
 
This is what will be happening as the talent pool dries up. Manipulating controls is easy and experience only comes with time, and the experienced pilots are just not there like they use to be. Only saying.

4runner 07-27-2018 04:07 PM

What happened? Everyone ok?

Brokenwind 07-27-2018 04:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RunsWithScissor (Post 2643719)
This is what will be happening as the talent pool dries up. Manipulating controls is easy and experience only comes with time, and the experienced pilots are just not there like they use to be. Only saying.


Guy are coming on with incredible interface skills. 100% engaged with the automation and quite comfortable with the first generation capabilities of the B767.

Disconnect the a/p at 1000”, stare at the EADI for 90 seconds, as you start to zone out after 8+ hours of flight and looking up in the last 50 feet, not knowing where to look, and there you have it...

motorclutch 07-27-2018 04:46 PM

Hey we broke one in GDL a couple of years past. New first officer (MIT grad) bounced one and let go at 40 feet to test the ....captain autoland feature. She eventually got fired but is flyin 737 freighters in Honolulu. It all works out.

wjcandee 07-27-2018 04:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by gumpscheck (Post 2643666)
Maybe Joe Hete will remove one -300 from the ABX fleet and give it to Atlas. He likes to do stuff like that.

True that, but they would have to put the seats back in. It was an AMC troop flight.

JackStraw 07-27-2018 04:59 PM

Happy to report that the FO completed OE with that landing and is all signed off and good to go!! Fedex interview in August.

motorclutch 07-27-2018 05:53 PM

Hahaha. That’s funny ****.


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