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Friday, October 5, 2007

ASA Reaches Tentative Pilot Pact SkyWest in Landmark Court Ruling

Kathryn Creedy

ASA, ALPA Reach Tentative Deal
Nearly five years after they began negotiations, Atlanta Southeast Airlines (ASA) and the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) reached a long overdue, tentative labor contract covering the airline’s 1,700 pilots, of which 1,400 are eligible to vote. ASA’s Pilot Spokesperson Rick Bernskoetter said the group hoped to have voting completed in mid-to-late November. The contract includes a $13.5 million distribution to current pilots meted out by the Master Executive Council that the union called a “signing bonus.”
According to ASA President Bryan LaBrecque, "It has been a long road to get here, but we are glad to finally have a tentative contract agreement that will benefit ASA's hard-working pilots while allowing us to remain cost-competitive within the regional airline industry."
In addition to new pay scales which can be found on the airline’s ALPA site asanegotiations.alpa.org/ along with pay comparisons with its peer groups American Eagle, Chautauqua, ExpressJet and parent company SkyWest, the contract is significant for its job protections, according to Bernskoetter which includes a no-furlough clause. The provisions allow ASA/SkyWest to transfer aircraft between parties but crews must go with them when the transfers reach an unannounced threshold. The provision is also binding on SkyWest, the holding company. Pilots will also get profit sharing as the SkyWest pilots do already. The agreement also contains duty rigs that are one hour of pay for each two hours of duty up to 12 hours of duty and then one hour of pay for each hour after 12 hours, on a scheduled basis. The minimum day agreed to is 3.75 hours.
The next step in the process after completion of the final language is for the MEC to meet and approve the tentative agreement. If the new contract provisions are approved by the MEC, a road show to educate pilots will be launched.

SkyWest Upheld on Work Rules, Minimum Wage
Lawyers for Reed Smith LLP, representing SkyWest Airlines, Inc., have won an important appellate victory in a wage-and-hour class action closely watched by the airline industry. Michaelena Fitz-Gerald et al. v. SkyWest Airlines, Inc., involved a challenge by two former California-based flight attendants to SkyWest’s method of compensating its nearly 2,000 flight attendants across the country. The plaintiffs claimed that SkyWest flight attendants’ bargained-for, pay-and-work-rule agreement violated California’s minimum wage, meal and rest breaks, and overtime wage requirements. SkyWest’s method of compensating and giving meal and rest breaks to flight attendants is an industry standard.
The published opinion by the Ventura-based, three-judge panel of California’s Second Appellate District, Division Six, upheld a summary judgment entered by Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Denise de Bellefeuille in November 2005. In her ruling, Judge de Bellefeuille found the minimum wage, overtime pay, and meal and rest break requirements contained in California Industrial Welfare Commission Order No. 9-2001 were preempted by the federal Railway Labor Act (RLA) and the federal Airline Deregulation Act (ADA) and violate the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause. She also ruled that SkyWest flight attendants were exempt from California’s overtime pay requirements because they have a valid collective bargaining agreement with SkyWest, which contains its own overtime pay guarantee.
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