Alaska Air pilots threaten strike over planning dispute
Alaska Air pilots want their flight schedules to reflect on their preferences and seniority; to try to reach an agreement in the years-long dispute.
Pilots for Alaska Air are threatening to strike more than a year in a dispute with their schedules, dealing another blow to the beleaguered airline.
Airline Pilots Association, Teamsters Local 1224 are in discussion with the carrier about an in-house planning system that the union says is not taking into account the seniority of the pilots and their individual preferences while flying.
The union has voted only to authorize a strike” if necessary.” The Las Vegas-based airline major hubs such as Phoenix, Fort Lauderdale and Orlando and had a strike, thousands of passengers could see cancellations at the height of the summer travel season.
“We are people with spouses and children, not the cells on a worksheet that Alaska executives can move without rhyme or reason,” said Captain Andrew Robles, an Alaska Air pilot and the Executive Council, the Chairman of the pilots’ union, the Airline Pilots Association, Teamsters Local 1224. Robles added, “Alaska has a long track record of breaking its obligations to the pilots and we have had enough. Alaska leaders to act in complete and utter bad faith in failing to negotiate a fair, industry-standard planning system.”
Insiders from the industry and the airline itself to say, a strike is impossible, because the pilots are currently under contract, and the agreements are not to lapse. Representatives of the airline accused the union of saber rattling to negotiate existing arrangements with the pilots. In addition, the airline claims it would be a violation of the Railway Labor Act, which provides that union members cannot strike while under contract. The airline issued the following statement to Fox News.
“We remain committed to, and are active in the direction of the completion of the implementation of the plans of the system, working with the vendor selected by the IBT. Under the Railway Labor), as well as the terms and conditions of the current collective bargaining agreement, this issue would not constitute grounds for a legal work stoppage.”
The low cost carrier’s reputation has been questioned in recent months about the safety concerns. In a “60 Minutes” exposé on CBS, damage reports above water company whistle blowers and disgruntled passengers who reported aborted takeoffs, emergency landings, and mechanical problems in the last few years, at a rate that is much higher than other standard airlines. The airline executives at the time called the report both “offensive and defamatory”, while promoting a “false story” that the company does not comply with FAA standards.
“They’re kind of creeping back of that bad publicity from earlier this year with questions about maintenance…so this is not useful, says Seth Kaplan, managing partner of Airline Weekly, an airline trade magazine. He added:” customers think, ‘I’m going to book this airline and my flight is going to work?'”
For all questions about the safety record, Alaska is one of the most profitable low cost airlines. The pilot’s union says there are 60 consecutive quarters of profit, in spite of the questionable practices in the media are exposed. The passenger transport has remained stable since the beginning of the year in comparison with the 2017 numbers.
“They do a little bit of a decline in bookings after the bad publicity, but she recovered very quickly,” says Kaplan.
At the same time, the airline is also trying to reach a bargaining agreement with the dispatchers. At the end of last month, the coordinators represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters failed ratification of a proposed collective bargaining agreement with the company
For the pilots, no attack day is set and they hope for a quick end to the problem for the 877 men and women who fly for the airline.
“If this drags, I see a mediator to get involved, you know, perhaps, facilitated by the government, that is what usually happens in a typical strike situations, but this is something the company can solve,” says Kaplan.
Andrew Craft is a Fox News multimedia reporter based in Las Vegas, Nevada . Follow him on twitter: @AndrewCraft