Continental ready to talk to ALPA

Representatives from the Continental pilots’ union, the Air Line Pilots Association, and Continental Airlines have met to sign a Protocol Agreement that sets the stage for the parties to begin talks about changes to the pilots’ contract. The agreement outlines the schedule, location and agenda for talks about the non-economic contract issues. Without the agreement, discussions on changes to the current contract would not have started until April 2008. Last May, the union asked the company to begin discussions early, this summer, in order to complete the process by the contract’s amendable date, Dec. 31, 2008. The company responded favorably to this request, leading to the Protocol Agreement that was signed.

“We’re encouraged to see Continental’s management take this forward thinking approach in working with its pilots,” said Capt. Jay Pierce, chairman of the union’s Negotiating Committee. “By agreeing to start talking about the non-economic portions of our contract now, we will help to ensure that we have plenty of time to thoroughly discuss and refine all areas of the contract. Starting the process now allows us an opportunity to address issues that otherwise might get less attention.”

Added Capt. Tom Donaldson, chairman of the Continental Master Executive Council, the governing body of the Continental pilots’ union, “Continental Airlines management has shown that it is interested in working with its pilots in a way that other airlines are not. Working with employee groups and not against them is one of the best ways, we believe, of contributing to an airline’s success.”

“Open, honest and direct communication with our pilots, and all of our work groups, is part of our culture at Continental,” said Capt. Fred Abbott, vice president flight operations. “We look forward to continuing and even strengthening the mutually beneficial, cooperative relationship we already have with our pilots.”