WASHINGTON, D.C.—-The union representing pilots at the American Eagle carriers has asked the National Mediation Board to rule that an unresolved dispute exists between the union and Eagle management, opening the door for a federal mediator to be assigned and some provisions of the current contract to be renegotiated.
At issue is Eagle’s decision to transfer 14 of its Embraer 145 aircraft to another American Airlines feeder carrier that operates separately from the American Eagle group.
“This is distinctly contrary to the expectations that Eagle pilots had when we agreed to the current contract back in 1997. The two most important factors in our decision to accept that agreement were job security and career growth. Transferring our aircraft out of Eagle is in direct contradiction to those expectations and the contract we signed,” said Capt. Herb Mark, chairman of the Eagle pilots’ Master Executive Council (MEC), a unit of the Air Line Pilots Association.
In a letter sent Aug. 19 to American Eagle management, Capt. Duane Woerth, president of ALPA, said “Rather than engage in brinksmanship over this issue, the Association takes its present action with the firm resolve of engaging the Carrier in discussions which result in an agreement satisfactory to the Carrier as well as Eagle pilots.”
In calling for discussions mediated by the NMB, Woerth said that American Airlines management and the Allied Pilots Association, which represents American’s pilots, should be included in the talks. The letter included the option of having Eagle and American pilots share in the jobs retained by not transferring the aircraft.
ALPA has asked the NMB to rule this the type of dispute that would require an NMB mediator to intervene, essentially opening up new negotiations of the existing collective bargaining agreement. Lesser disputes are handled through an arbitration procedure spelled out by the Railway Labor Act and usually do not entail renegotiation of an existing labor contract.