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Colgan Pilots: Reply to Managment Emails

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Colgan Pilots: Reply to Managment Emails

Old 11-26-2008, 08:05 AM
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Default Colgan Pilots: Reply to Managment Emails

I am forwarding this to ALPA and IBT. Please feel free to copy and forward it; however, if you do, plese remove my name.

Dear Colgan Pilots,

After getting several pieces of management's anti ALPA propaganda, I thought I, a Colgan FO, would take some time and discuss each point they raise.

Before I address the memos, I would like to make a separate observation: Colgan management will tell say you are lucky to have a job. It is true that we are lucky we suffered no furloughs; however, we still have jobs because Colgan flies turboprops on short hops. Period. I mean no disrespect to other regional pilots who fly jets, but the fact is when times get tough, turboprops will always displace jets on short flights. To managment's credit, the decision to buy Qs was a good one (especially looking back at the last 12 months). But the fact remains, we have jobs because of the airframes we fly, the routes we have, and how we fly them!

Let's start with DB's personal experiences with ALPA. I admit I was a bit disappointed when I read his note (I have never met him, but when I needed help he as always responded swiftly and fairly). According to his note, DB went to CCAir who was owned by Mesa, and as we all know, CCAir and its employees got screwed. I don't mean to be too harsh, but we should not be surprised: a nonunion company purchased by a company with a castrated MEC and an owner who believes his industry trailing contract is too generous. That said, let's look at what DB said about Colgan:

“The only airline that actually cared and took the time to listen to my furlough issue was Colgan Air, a
nonunion airline and not on the list of “preferential treatment” carriers. Colgan not only hired me but gave
me the opportunity to be a Captain on the Saab and grow with the Company.”

Colgan, a nonunion airline, hired a pilot who was (presumably) disgruntled with ALPA. Big surprise! Also, as I read that paragraph, it sounds like he was hired as a street captain. Something no FO should be happy with. Even if he wasn't a street captain, Colgan has a long history of hiring street captains. FOs, what good is a seniority number and new aircraft, if the company is just going to pass you over and hire street captains?

Next, let's look at HM's note. Like HM, I am not new to aviation: 10 years in the 135 and corporate world. I too “survived” night freight. And all my time prior to Colgan was single pilot.

His first message is that over the past year we have all undergone “incredible challenges” which the company “could never have pulled this off without the many sacrifices many of you made.” Nice words... and I believe they are true. We all, MX, FAs, and pilots, have worked hard to bring the Qs online while keeping the Beech and Saabs running up to par. And what have we gotten in return: crappy lines, loss of collateral pay, paychecks that are consistently short, and (in the last two months) sudden visits from management asking how things can be improved. And when we suggest something, the reply is “oh, yeah, we are looking into that.”

According to HM (and I agree) “The management team that runs an airline and how that
management team interacts with the crews is one of the most important factors at any airline.
Communication between you and the management team is the key component.” So, the last few times you needed to (or had) any communication with management what happened? Did you call and get “we're sorry, XXXX voicemail is full? Or did you email crewpay several times and get no reply? In flight, have you called AirInc for a patch to MX only to hear, “Your call is very important to us, please stay on the line”? Or, after you made as safety of flight decision, were you called on the carpet to explain your actions (not “tell me what happened”, but “don't you think you could have done that better”)? If this management truly wants to communication with us, perhaps they should take a look at where they are failing now.

HM asks “what is your seniority number? You first officers and Saab transition pilots, what is your
upgrade and transition potential?”

Consider this:
According to Airline Pilot Central, Pinnacle Airline INC. has 1300 pilots. Their most junior pilot was hired October 2006. Based on the October seniority list, Colgan's most junior non-street captain was hired first quarter of 2007. IF the seniority lists were merged, based on date of hire, our relative seniority would not change substantially. And IF they ARE merged, almost certainly a fence would be between the two pilot groups. Even if Pinnacle pilots wanted to staple us (something I do not believe), given the process ALPA requires and the time involved, the majority of the pilots at both companies would have upgraded.

HM then moves on to Q and A:

“Q Last year you promised you would review a pay scales .
A. Historically, Colgan Air has reviewed our pilots pay scales annually. This year we found
ourselves in a financial position that did not allow for any rate adjustment. In February, March,
April, and May of 2008 Colgan Air was extremely close to a financial crisis. We were losing 2 – 3
million dollars each month. Keeping the doors open at Colgan Air was a monumental challenge. I
can honestly say that if it wasn’t for your executive leadership team at Pinnacle Airlines
Corporation and at Colgan Air restructuring the airline and taking bold steps, all of our jobs most
likely would have disappeared. Survival of the airline was number one priority. Colgan Air was in
no position to raise rates.”

Given the economy of the last 12 months, I believe there was no money for raises. But, when we lost our runups and cancellation, and other pay was greatly curtailed, did management take a similar cut? Was Dot's or BC's or HM's pay cut a few percent? I don't mean stock options or other fuzzy pay, I mean actual, on the W2, pay. If we ALL took a cut, fair enough, but if it was just we, indentured servants, who were shorted then I say NUTS! We are not asking for pay out of line with what we fly!

Most telling is where he mentions Pinnacle CORP. The promise when Colgan was purchased was Colgan would be run by Colgan Management. But HM says Pinnacle CORP is “restructuring the airline”. Sound to me like CORP is already charge.

Finally, let's look at the comments by BC. Over at least two memos (possibly three, the first was unsigned), our buddy says:

“Just over a year ago, you, the Colgan Air pilots rejected ALPA’s efforts to
unionize your workforce. Now, they are back at it again. Unwilling to take your
“No” for an answer, ALPA has sought yet another election to determine whether
or not it, instead of you, could determine the destiny of our company.”

Just over a year ago, at least a third of the Colgan pilots signed ALPA cards. The election failed by fewer 2%. That election could have failed for a number of reasons: a majority of pilots did not want a union, many did not vote for fear of reprisals, many may have thought they would have moved on by now.
This year, between the IBT and ALPA, close to 80% of the Colgan pilots are seeking representation. Last year's Colgan is not the same as this year's Colgan. It isn't ALPA or IBT or any other union who has sought us out, it is WE who are seeking them: hoping to be represented. It is WE who determine the destiny.

Some of the things BC says management has “given” us include:

“a commuter policy, a uniform allowance, and paid parking at the
airport of the crew member’s choice. In addition we have increased the reserve
call in time at the hubs from 1 hour to 1.5 hours and increased the per diem.”

The commuter policy and the 1.5 hour call outs were implemented.... because they couldn't fire us all. The commuter policy is a joke. I can't speak for the other hubs, but at IAH, with the bus ride from the parking lot to the terminal taking upwards of 40 minutes, they had no choice.

Paid parking. I cannot think of any airline (I think even Mesa) which does not provide airport parking. Yes, they have given us the choice of where we want to park, but only at the same rate as in IAH. So..... I don't get it.... that is a benefit? I thought having a place to park one's car coming to work was kind of a requirement.

Perdiem rate was increased. Five cents per hour. Over a four day trip, that amounts to less than $5.00. Yeehaw, now I can get that surf and turf a real pilot eats. But keep in mind, one lost runup for a first year FO on that four day trip cost $5.20; a captian $10.40. So the bottom line is we lost money. And, we only got the perdiem because the FAs got it in their contract.

Finally, Buddy says Pinnacle pilots want our flying. Whether Ithaca to La Guardia or College Station to Bush, I don't see too many Pinnacle pilots saying, “Boy, I can't wait to fly a Saab!” Do Pinnacle pilots want to protect themselves from whipsawing? Absolutely! And who can blame them. Yeah, I want to upgrade, but screwing my sister company's pilots and for too little money is not how I want to do it.

The one thing management continually fails to mention is....
It isn't up to Colgan or Pinnacle INCs's pilots. ONLY PINNACLE CORP!

The only point I fully agree with is that ALPA (or any union) “is not a quick fix”. It will take time. It will take a strong MEC. It will take a strong pilot group. After all, a local is only as strong as its members!

Now is the time for us to be strong. We must ask for and fight for what is due us:

Better Work Rules
Better Quality of Life
Reasonable Pay

in short, the Respect we have earned for helping to keep Colgan flying!

With Respect and Unity,
John Hickman, FO, Colgan Air
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Old 11-26-2008, 10:41 AM
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VERY well written. I am on day 2 of a 4 day right now and am looking forward to the vote that I am going to call home to my wife and read me the pin number and instructions over the phone.

Another point that as we stand right now, if Pinnacle wants to join seniority list, take our flying, or just generally do whatever they would like THEY CAN! The only one fighting for us is BC and I wouldnt trust him with my dirty laundry. With a union we actually have a group with OUR best interest in mind working and fighting with us to do ultimately what is right.

I personally hope they merge us as you said the seniority is relative and will really not affect me or anyone else I know. To go from 400 strong to 1700 strong would be a proud moment in stopping a whipsaw cold in its tracks and making that PNCL strike all that much more powerful.
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Old 11-26-2008, 02:16 PM
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Well written but ironic because you take a slight jab at Mesa. If I am not mistaken didn't the pilots did take a beating but accomplished a single seniority list to prevent a whipsaw from occuring. This was something that others sadly could not do and we know what's happening there at this time. In the long run that "trailing" contract prevented a true whipsaw, which in the long run was worth it. It feels like a pot meet kettle. You take a dig at those who did take a stand and accomplished something that Colgan pilots are trying to do now - protect their rights.
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Old 11-26-2008, 02:34 PM
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very nice hits the big points
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Old 11-26-2008, 04:36 PM
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Originally Posted by sinsilvia666 View Post
very nice hits the big points
Although, I would go back and fix the grammatical errors and fill in the occasional word that you forgot to type...
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Old 11-26-2008, 07:32 PM
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spelling and grammar are nice and important however the big picture here is the message. Good work John, we thank you for your spirit.

Colgan OC
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Old 11-26-2008, 09:27 PM
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Originally Posted by skywatch View Post
Although, I would go back and fix the grammatical errors and fill in the occasional word that you forgot to type...
I did the best I could. I put my neck out. Feel free to stick yours out as well.
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Old 11-27-2008, 07:50 AM
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Good Job my friend, I really think you covered about all of it.
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Old 12-01-2008, 06:52 PM
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Well said ...
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Old 12-01-2008, 07:19 PM
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Originally Posted by skidmark View Post
Good Job my friend, I really think you covered about all of it.
Thank you.
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