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Old 04-22-2007, 12:21 PM   #1  
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Default History lesson on "sick outs"

I'd like to hear from those who've been there. Has your union or group ever organized a "sick out?" Are there laws in place to prevent one now? Pro or con with respect to them?

It just seems like a sick out would have been the perfect "protest" when the management bonuses were released by the legacy carriers recently.

I'm a military guy, getting ready to retire and join the commercial aviation world. So the union vs management issue is very interesting to me. I'm not trying to stir the pot- just very interested in current pilot views.
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Old 04-22-2007, 12:31 PM   #2  
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I see that a sick out is illegal under the Railway Labor Act. Still, your thoughts are welcome.
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Old 04-23-2007, 01:56 PM   #3  
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As AMR and CMR unions found out, anything that smells of a job action is illegal unless it follows the RLA pattern and can lead to very hefty fines. Other pilots have found this out- just posting something on an internet forum or letting the wrong person overhear you in the crew lounge talking about slowing things down, maintenance write up campaigns, sick outs, etc have led to job action (termination).
My personal opinion is that the RLA has outlived its usefulness and needs to be canned. Only then will airline management begin to take the pilots seriously. Won't happen anytime soon, however.
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Old 04-23-2007, 02:02 PM   #4  
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WestAir had a sick out once. It was very effective in that there was a great deal of participation. The company reacted typically for a bunch of boneheads. They randomly fired 9 captains. They put so much though in to it, they actually fired a guy on a LOA. Idiots.

Eventually they had to rehire everyone and had to give the guy on a LOA $50,000 in a settlement.
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Old 04-23-2007, 02:09 PM   #5  
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we had one of these in Norway not to long ago.
A very big portion of the ATC's governing the norwegian airpsace got "sick" and basically all fligths were grounded. I was supposed to get on a flight 10 minuites after the strike commenced ;(
afaik it's illegal over here aswell, but they got what they wanted in the end
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Old 04-24-2007, 03:24 PM   #6  
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The laws in the US are probably very different than those in Norway when it comes to job action in the transportation industry. Also, if the WestAir mentioned is the Irish one, this also applies.
US law, the Railway Labor Act (often referred to as the RLA), has very strict guidelines and time tables for "self help", or job actions, in the transportation industry. It is difficult if not impossible for labor at a medium size or larger airline to coordinate a sick out without some type of trail, either written (email, web postings), or verbal. Company management can present these items to a judge and get some hefty fines against unions (again, my previous reference to AMR and CMR); they can also use this to legally terminate pilots. I don't know of it is true, but I heard that DAL tried to do this to some pilots in 2000-2001 toward the end contract negotiations when some pilots suggested write-up campaigns, not picking up open time (again, if this is coordinated it is considered an illegal job action), or sick outs.
Unfortunately this plays into the hands of management. They can and do drag out negotiations for years with no fear of labor action.
For any new hire at a US airline, if you are not familiar with the RLA get with a union rep and find out about the nuts and bolts of it. Again, even TALKING about a job action in a crew lounge, or posting something on a union website can lead to termination and the union will NOT be able to help.
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