I apologize for the length of this post but given the gravity of the issue at hand, when I sat down to write late last night, a long list of things came to mind.
Truth is subjective to those wishing an outcome inconsistent with reality. The language of Letter of Agreement (LOA) 19, as we detail below, provides pilots with little, if any, real long or short term security. Axiomatically, pilot negotiators assert American Airlines representatives, in confidential discussions, have 'assured' them new airplanes are a yes vote away.
Before discussing the pending 'Piedmont Pilot' (LOA) 19 some digression is warranted. Recent LOA’s, surprisingly, or not, contain language not voted on or approved by the Piedmont MEC. Fortunately, the offending language, at a minimum, or the document in its entirety, is not valid. Will the PDT MEC act decisively to restore contract deficiencies is unknown at this time.
The economics of LOA 19 are concessionary and eviscerate decades old language governing vacation, 401K match and sick accrual. Potentially more calamitous; health insurance premiums are rising rapidly. In 5 years pilot contributions will more than triple to 35% of that expanding cost.
The goals of the agreement: a minimum fleet of 20 aircraft and the introduction of jet aircraft and job opportunities at the larger Us Airways and/or American Airlines. But does it achieve the stated intent? We will look at the relevant language in italics.
Appendix, D (b) : If the number of airframes in revenue service at Piedmont falls below twenty (20), the Association will have the right by written notice to Piedmont to require Piedmont to put back in place the terms and conditions of the 2013 Piedmont/ALPA CBA (the “snap back”) prior to amendments found in the Jet Aircraft Letter of Agreement. The snap back terms and conditions will be effective on the first day of the month following the one in which the Association gives such notice.
Is Piedmont forced to maintain a minimum fleet size of 20 airframes( in italics above)? Maybe. If Piedmont's fleet slips below 20, the agreement calls for reverting to the 2013 contract bargaining agreement. Although this may not be the sole remedy, it is written and agreed and an arbitrator might concur. It stretches the imagination agreeing to a ten-year re-fleeting letter without a more detailed company proposal.
Appendix D. 2. (c) : The commitments in this paragraph 2 are predicated on meaningful participation in Jet Aircraft Negotiations by other labor groups at Piedmont. The commitment for EMB-175 aircraft herein is contingent upon reaching acceptable agreements with the AFA-represented Flight Attendants and the IBT-represented Mechanics and related employee groups.
Will American Airlines place EMB 175 at Piedmont Airlines? Maybe, if Flight Attendants and Mechanics provide ‘meaningful participation'; the quoted reference is a relative quantity with ‘no’ absolute value or a methodology to enforce. It should also be noted that this is the first ALPA agreement containing contingencies requiring other groups to accept concessions. A bad precedent; future contracts could have pilots become bargaining agents for the company. IE mainline pilots force concessions on Piedmont pilots to gain B-747. The agreement also specifies rates for smaller 40 and 50 seat jet equipment. American does not and has no stated plans to order smaller regional jets in the future. If Piedmont receives planes in this category, Envoy and/or PSA airlines will have smaller fleets.
Appendix C: WHEREAS AA anticipates, but does not guarantee, that it may have new hire pilot employment opportunities available in the future within US Airways, AA, or both.
Appendix C 2: Eligibility for the PFP: Flow Through
Appendix C 2 iii: is an active and fully qualified pilot on the Piedmont Pilot Seniority List at the time he/she is notified of his/her selection to a New Pilot Position and the date he/she is released to his/her new hire class at AA.
The ‘Flow Through’ language might be acceptable and it should be noted: the small number of pilots flowing, approximately 3 per month, and C2iii (above) furloughed pilots (not actively flying) cannot flow. Consider this: if the fleet falls below 20, the pilot group will downsize faster than they can flow to American.
This agreement, if ratified and signed by Lee Moak, is a humiliating repudiation of ALPA's 7500 member ( Fee for Departure Airline Group). Regional airlines Envoy, Express jet, and Republic have overwhelmingly rejected better agreements. More offensive, many believe this agreement is an attempt to leverage other pilot groups into accepting less. A Piedmont pilot commented ' If we can't recognize this 'vote' as the best single opportunity in decades to collectively achieve better pay and benefits, then, livery/branding remains the only unknown.' The point can not be overstated; labor must stand together and end the whipsawing.
The vote closes September 15 at 10AM. You can be sure pilots and management will pay close attention. More importantly, how do both plan to manage the new environment; both sides will see change. Whether Piedmont Airlines has more past than future is and will remain unknown for several years. What is known: Airlines continue to order aircraft and profits remain robust. Yet, Doug Parker ET AL return to the same old ideas of wages and benefit cuts. If ever there is a moment for contrarian original thinking, this it. Victor Noir Planetruths.com