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Old 07-10-2008, 12:06 AM   #1  
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Default Could unions be the problem?

Yes I realize the above question is an invitation to flame me. And I will not dispute this. But I have an honest question and, as someone about to begin this career, I would like an honest answer.

Are unions to blame for the current state of pilot pay, QOL, and working conditions? Here is why I ask: After 9/11, when the major airlines were all losing money, they all went to the unions and begged for wage concessions. The unions, fearing massive layoffs, obliged, and the low pilot pay we say today is a reflection of the unions' judgement in that situation. I noticed that the people who WEREN'T asked to "make sacrifices" were the airlines' non-union employees. Not just executives, but everyone from the non-exec folks in the corporate office down to the baggage handlers. From my perspective, it looks like having a union is like having a spokesman yelling "cut my pay!," since it's easier to bully a single entity rather than a bunch of independant workers. Pilots used to make as much as engineers, architects, and lawyers. None of those groups are unionized, and as independant workers their employers can't cut all their pay in one fell swoop. It seems as though pilot pay has dropped because the unions legitimize the process of cutting pay. From what I've seen, only in a unionized workplace can management look every employee in the eye and tell them their pay is being cut.

What are your thoughts on this? I'd like to be enlightened here.
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Old 07-10-2008, 12:17 AM   #2  
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Pilot unions are the most worthless unions around. They have done nothing and continue to do nothing but hurt wages and QOL.
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Old 07-10-2008, 12:21 AM   #3  
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No. Unions are only good when everybody is fat dumb and happy. They come in to make sure all the dough is being divided accordingly. However now there is no more money and capacity is going down. Hence the start of these kind of threads where people look for someone to blame.
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Old 07-10-2008, 12:59 AM   #4  
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No.
Your premise is faulty. Non union employees got hosed harder than union employees did. I was a CAL "baggage handler" on 9/11. The company unilaterally imposed a cut of about 12% on us. They were kind enough to ask if we wanted it as lower wages, or higher medical premiums, reduced vacation time, or some combination. But there was never any doubt they they were going to get every penny they wanted - because we had no choice. They made all the rules. If we didn't like it we could quit.

CAL pilots had to approve a change in their contract, and while they did approve concessions, by majority vote, they managed to include a provision requiring (large) payments to their pension fund. They got something in return for their deal.

And the FA's didn't sign off on their deal for almost a year after I got my paycut.

No a union is not an invitation for lower pay. That's why companies spend so much time and money fighting to keep unions off property. As far as I'm concerned the worst union imaginable is far preferable to no union whatsoever.
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Old 07-10-2008, 01:15 AM   #5  
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Thank you for your account. You do realize that I am speaking purely from an outsider' perspective. But what about the airline's office workers? Did the "marketing systems analyst" (aka office job with no clear defined purpose) see his pay cut.

Just to be clear I'm not anti-union, though I do question their merits in some instances. In others, like grocery stores, I find unions beneficial. Grocery workers make decent pay (sadly more than some pilots), and I find they provide better service than the people at Walmart who can barely speak English.
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Old 07-10-2008, 01:24 AM   #6  
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Unions are a necessary evil in this industry. It would be worse without them. Sure they have their problems and need restructuring but they are needed. I think if we had a shift and made ALPA a union again instead of a union/business it would be alot more helpful. Also this mentality that its all about those at the top needs to be ousted. its shouldnt be u.n.I.o.n. We have a serious lack of leadership in all aspects of this country and this industry is no different. There are a number of positve things that a union does and there have been a number of positve leadership examples recently. for instance the NWA and DAL mecs are working together now which is a huge step considering the USAIR mess.

By having individual union mecs for everybody that does nothing but pin the MECs against each other when it comes time to actually work together. All regionals should be brought onto the bottom of each respective mainline and it should all be 1 list. At least for the wholly owned. Doing so would effectively get rid of whipsawing the regionals against the majors which keeps pay lower. This would also allow guys getting into the industry to get on at mainline quicker which allows everyone to start accruing longevity at a earlier part of their careers. I think this was prevented in recent past because then guys at mainline couldnt get their military buddies on flying heavies right way but fact of the matter is thee arent that many military pilots getting out these days and the number of military pilots is shrinking every year.

in order to make big changes in this industry we need a leadership that represents all pilots and we all have to stand together or its all pointless. the downfall of the Union isnt completely just the union, we are all partially to blame for not standing together. Read these forums and its easy to see the infighting and bickering and serious lack of unity.

Rant over
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Old 07-10-2008, 03:39 AM   #7  
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Thumbs down Unions could do a much better job....

Wages will probably stay low for a long time as well because when the negotiations occur the company will say: "well this pay you are requesting is much higher than the industry average for airlines operating Airbus A320 series aircraft, therefore we are not willing to go that high"

Union will reply "correct but not compared to pre-911 times"

Company: "correct but we are not in pre-911 times, we are all still feeling the pain of the fuel and oil crisis and if we raise pay too high we will lose out on the bottom line and will not be profitable"

I am in an all around crap mood, friends are losing their jobs, I and being moved to the bottom of the seniority list to our worst base more than likely...if i get to keep my job. I just had crew scheduling give me something I really did not and should not have received IF we had never let up on OUR PREVIOUS CONTRACT LAST YEAR!!!!!!


Rant continuing in my head....
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Old 07-10-2008, 03:55 AM   #8  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ComeFlyWithMe View Post
Yes I realize the above question is an invitation to flame me. And I will not dispute this. But I have an honest question and, as someone about to begin this career, I would like an honest answer.

Are unions to blame for the current state of pilot pay, QOL, and working conditions? Here is why I ask: After 9/11, when the major airlines were all losing money, they all went to the unions and begged for wage concessions. The unions, fearing massive layoffs, obliged, and the low pilot pay we say today is a reflection of the unions' judgement in that situation. I noticed that the people who WEREN'T asked to "make sacrifices" were the airlines' non-union employees. Not just executives, but everyone from the non-exec folks in the corporate office down to the baggage handlers. From my perspective, it looks like having a union is like having a spokesman yelling "cut my pay!," since it's easier to bully a single entity rather than a bunch of independant workers. Pilots used to make as much as engineers, architects, and lawyers. None of those groups are unionized, and as independant workers their employers can't cut all their pay in one fell swoop. It seems as though pilot pay has dropped because the unions legitimize the process of cutting pay. From what I've seen, only in a unionized workplace can management look every employee in the eye and tell them their pay is being cut.

What are your thoughts on this? I'd like to be enlightened here.
Management would not even have to "bully" a single entity/union to a lower pay standard at a non-unionized company. In essence, management could do whatever they wanted to employees with regards to pay and work rules.
Unionization in the transportation sector is difficult because most unionized employees cannot use the greatest tool/weapon against management which is a strike. It's difficult for airline unions, such as ALPA, to really strong-arm management into better pay or work rules. While I'm not saying it's impossible for an airline to strike, it's very difficult to get to that point legally.

An important thing to remember also is that unions didn't form because management was doing such a great job taking care of employees. Unions formed because of neglect to a company's employees' needs.

By the way, if you really want to start some flame just tell everyone that you love Mesa and that your willing to pay for your type rating just to fly a shiny jet.
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Old 07-10-2008, 04:30 AM   #9  
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The problem with Unions is that the current political arena does not allow unions to work as intended (The RLA not implemented as designed is a slap in the face). While I did vote for Bush last go-around, I am highly disappointed in the lack of union support from the politicians in Washington.

On top of the political climate that has changed since the advent of Unions is the fact that overall in the social circles the "american way" is cheaper, bigger, better, more and in the workforce its "may the best survive". These factors only make picketing useless and further frustrates everyone involved in the union drives towards better work rules, wages, and QOL. The "american way" has morphed the workforce demographic over the last few generations over managment groups claiming higher wages and better work environments in place of no unions, due to that fact the CEO/management pay has grown exponentially since the disbandment of many unions in many different labor arenas while the blue collar, and in many instances lower white collar workers have suffered.

Just my thoughts at 6am.

ALPA. One Voice, One Union!
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Old 07-10-2008, 06:26 AM   #10  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by higney85 View Post
The problem with Unions is that the current political arena does not allow unions to work as intended (The RLA not implemented as designed is a slap in the face). While I did vote for Bush last go-around, I am highly disappointed in the lack of union support from the politicians in Washington.

On top of the political climate that has changed since the advent of Unions is the fact that overall in the social circles the "american way" is cheaper, bigger, better, more and in the workforce its "may the best survive". These factors only make picketing useless and further frustrates everyone involved in the union drives towards better work rules, wages, and QOL. The "american way" has morphed the workforce demographic over the last few generations over managment groups claiming higher wages and better work environments in place of no unions, due to that fact the CEO/management pay has grown exponentially since the disbandment of many unions in many different labor arenas while the blue collar, and in many instances lower white collar workers have suffered.

Just my thoughts at 6am.

ALPA. One Voice, One Union!
I agree with this 100%! However, you forgot to put, in quotes:

ALPA. One Voice, One Union! (One voice until I'm affected, One union only as a semantic that my dues go to the same office as everyone else.)

One other HUGE issue that's deeply affected our industry over the last 8 years is the bankruptcy code and how managements have been able to manipulate it and the process. Let's hope ALPA can make some headway in changing the "qualifications and process". If a union truly had any recourse for managements actions, the "bar" in our industry wouldn't have been set as low as quickly as management has set it.
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