PRNewswire MINNEAPOLIS Dec. 1 :
After Mesaba Airlines management publicly indicated that a strike deadline
would likely be necessary to pressure contract talks into closure, Mesaba
Airlines pilots opened a strike operations center today in Minneapolis. A
strike would impact 600 daily departures for Northwest Airlines.
“Mesaba pilots want a contract, not a strike. However, we are prepared to
strike to attain the contract goals of this pilot group,” said Kris
Pierson, pilot spokesman for the Mesaba unit of the Air Line Pilots
Association, International (ALPA). In October, the pilots overwhelmingly
(98%) voted to authorize a strike should union leaders call for a work
Last week, management at the Northwest Airlink partner requested a release
from federally mediated talks if no meaningful progress was made this week
in negotiations. The union and management negotiators will meet for three
days in Minneapolis to try and reach agreement.
Management`s request is similar to the plea ALPA made to National
Mediation Board officials in August to be released from mediation. The
release would result in a 30-day cooling off period before pilots could
strike. The board has not yet made a formal response to either request.
“Almost 900 days have elapsed since we began negotiations and we are, and
have been, at an impasse,” said Captain Tom Wychor, Chairman of the Mesaba
ALPA Unit. “One half of our pilot group earns less than $35,000 a year,
with starting salaries less than $17,000. This is far less than pilots at
other regional airlines who have less experience and seniority.”
Negotiations began in June 2001 and the pilot contract became amendable in
June 2002. It was negotiated in 1996 and was extended for two years by
concessionary amendments that allowed Mesaba to grow. Remaining open
issues include job security, compensation, retirement, and work rules.
Mesaba Airlines operates as a Northwest Jet Airlink and Northwest Airlink
partner for Northwest Airlines. Mesaba serves 114 cities in 30 states and
Canada from Northwest`s three major hubs: Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul
and Memphis. Mesaba employs 844 professional airline pilots who operate an
advanced fleet of 103 regional jet and jet-prop aircraft.
Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world`s largest pilot union representing
66,000 pilots at 42 airlines in the U.S. and Canada. Visit the ALPA Web
site at http://www.alpa.org/