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Workers viewed and treated as drag on companies


John S.

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Workers viewed and treated as drag on companies

By JONATHAN TASINI

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Tasini article

With all this talk about Picher being dead it may be a good time to consider the ramifications of that event.

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John....

I was going to post an article that appeared recently in the Miami Herald to the effect that the recent wage reduction demands within the industry are the direct result of company-based unions. The author suggested that unless employee groups recognize the vital necessity of industry-based unions, they will continue their race to the bottom. ( My precis does not do his comments justice.)

I don't know how many opponents actually read the Picher award. He stated essentially the same thing. He said that there would be some hardships; some few would be negatively impacted but, unless the approach he directed was accepted, the company would play both employee groups off against each other to the ultimate detrimant of both. He knew whereof he spoke.

The trouble with CALPA was simply that it didn't have a belief in its own purpose; it did not exceed the "sum of its parts".

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He knew whereof he spoke.

That, my friend, is perhaps the ONE PART of the whole document that all parties ought to agree on.

However I'm pretty sure that while 99% of the connector pilots of the day read the full Picher document (it was distributed by the union) only a minority of the mainline pilots got the same chance. So even your simple line will probably not be universally accepted.

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This is what has been discussed before. With the lowering of the bar all around, it's only a matter of time until the trickle down loss of wages and benefits affects the majority of the population.

Then again, the Neo-Conservatives never worried about that, did they?

Well, with the desire to expand open skies, we'll all be able to travel again when Air India starts their Canadian domestic service.

They're getting all the other jobs,,,,,, aren't they?

Iceman

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The author suggested that unless employee groups recognize the vital necessity of industry-based unions, they will continue their race to the bottom. ( My precis does not do his comments justice.)

ALPA is an industry-based union and as little success so far in stopping the slide in wages and working conditions in the US.

Nordo

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Nordo...the author was referring to United, Delta and others. Delta is not represented by ALPA (as far as I can recall) but, and more importantly, ALPA has not functioned (nor did CALPA) as an industry union. It is an association of union locals with the locals (read MEC) given considerable autonomy as it relates to work conditions and pay. The suggestion is that the union should be negotiating pay scales for ALL pilots regardless of employer.

This has ben suggested by a great number of commentators but those directly involved are reluctant to surrender their "independence".

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Upperdeck,

I see what you are saying. The idea of a hiring hall or a profesional association representing all pilots and controlling accreditation has been mused about off and on for as long as I can remember.

Whether anyone could ever herd all the cats together to form this kind of board is another thing.

Nordo

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The idea of a hiring hall or a profesional association representing all pilots and controlling accreditation has been mused about off and on for as long as I can remember.

Whether anyone could ever herd all the cats together to form this kind of board is another thing.

Herding the cats is not the problem. Establishing accreditation standards and uniformity in wages is not the problem either. The problem is that the airline industry does not have union job sites.

When you are a unionized heavy equipment operator, for example, you seek and apply for work through the union hall, for a job on a "union worksite". Generally speaking, companies that are working the big construction jobs hire union heavy equipment operators because they come with a "sort of" guarantee. (Screw up too many jobs that the union sends you out on, and you won't find yourself at the top of many lists...). The hourly wage commanded by the unionized heavy equipment operator tends to keep the non-unionized wage up, because most of the big jobs are union sites. (There will always be a non-unionized workforce.)

In the airline industry there are no union job sites, just companies. (I don't envision airports becoming "union job sites" and deciding that only airlines with unionized pilots can have access to their gates either...) So even if ALL the unionized pilots in North America got together and created a union hall from where any furloughed pilot or new hire must be sought by the any "union" airline, there will always be numerous upstart airlines with non-unionized pilots... (because there will always be a non-unionized workforce). And because commercial air travel is a service industry, it is very sensitive to consumer preference (cheap seats) so instead of the unionized workforce driving the average wage up, the reverse occurs.

I just don't see how gathering all unionized pilots together is going to make a big difference to wages throughout the industry. Gathering them togehter within one company, however, seems like a no-brainer...

ccairspace

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Guest rattler

In order to achieve a "one hiring hall" concept, the very major problem of seniority (and I don't mean within the AC family) would still have to be solved and I think the chances of that can best be described as "slim and none".

At least based on the various "seniority" threads on this forum.

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Guest rattler

How else could it work??? Perhaps tiered based on type of aircraft endorsed on your licence??? In other words everyone lumped together based on present aircraft types but then of course what about within those brackets???? Talk about an impossible task.... wink.gif

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Having a central 'bargaining unit' to negotiate wages with every employer does not solve the problem, and even brings along problems of its own.

Unions which are certified at various independent employers still wind up bargaining with the employers independently unless the employers (who may well be bitter competitors) join together to bargain under one flag. This does happen, as in the forestry industry in B.C., but it's more common that your Great Big Amalgamated Union will simply bargain for each contract individually at the separate employers. In what way have you gained a strategic advantage?

A strategic advantage can only come if:

1) the pilot union controls hiring for every single pilot in the country.

2) pilots at one company will stop work when pilots at other comanies stop work.

The situation in '1' above is not going to happen. It would require enormous political will on the part of the pilots, versus the vastly greater political and economic clout of the employers and government.

Will the situation in '2' above arise? Ask yourself, are the well-paid pilots at a large mainline company going to walk out in sympathy because their brothers and sisters at a little regional startup have gone on strike?

And finally, there are Big Unions at Air Canada. The CAW is one of the strongest and best connected unions in the country. Yet they could not prevent their members from losing ground recently. In short, no matter how powerful your union is, it's no panacea; we're all ultimately dependent on the financial strength of our employers.

While pilots deserve (in my opinion) every professional consideration due to lawyers, doctors and dentists, and (in my opinion) deserve to make even more than those professions due to the shortened nature of our careers... our profession operates in an industry which is fundamentally different from the ones just mentioned. We may well be able to extract equivalent monies from our industry as doctors and lawyers do from theirs, but we will not be able to do it in a bi-weekly paycheck. It will require a shift in thinking on our part; and a Great Big Union is not the kind of shift that's needed.

neo

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