FedEx Pilots Caution Against Tampering With Federal Rules Governing Labor Disputes

Apr 25, 2001, 01:00 ET from FedEx Pilots Association

    WASHINGTON, April 25 /PRNewswire/ -- Government interference with the
 collective bargaining process is unlikely to alleviate problems within the
 airline industry and could harm a system that clearly works, the union
 representing the pilots of Federal Express Corporation cautioned today.
     The FedEx Pilots Association (FPA) issued its warning following a hearing
 by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation regarding the
 status of labor issues in the aviation industry.
     At that hearing, Chairman John McCain (R-AZ) contended that the trend
 towards larger airlines has given unions greater leverage in labor
 negotiations, "which appears to have contributed to a mindset that views any
 work stoppage as legitimate" and suggested that acrimonious negotiations have
 an adverse impact on the American people.  As an example, he cited the
 cancellation of more than 23,000 United Air Lines flights last year because of
 pilots' refusal to fly forced overtime.
     "Airline passengers at times may be inconvenienced by labor disputes that
 are unavoidable, and pilots regret that when it happens," said Captain David
 Webb, president of the 3,800-member FPA.  "But pilots not only are within
 their rights to refuse to fly overtime, but also have the responsibility to do
 so, if they do not have adequate rest, which could affect safety.  The real
 issue here is labor being made a scapegoat for airline management's failure to
 adequately staff their respective airlines, and their failure to negotiate in
 good faith."
     At the Senate hearing, FedEx President and CEO Fred Smith testified that,
 even where management and unions are able to reach tentative agreements,
 employees "increasingly reject those proposed contracts, forcing the parties
 to return to the bargaining table."
     Webb noted, however, that such give and take is an important part of the
 process.  "The day of the company store and company housing are long gone," he
 said.  "America believes in a level playing field, and for that to work it has
 to be level for both management and labor.
     "At FedEx -- and this is surely the case with every airline -- labor and
 management have similar goals," he added.  "While we have our disagreements,
 we both want to see the company succeed.  After all, we can't prosper unless
 FedEx prospers."
     Webb cautioned lawmakers against rushing to make any changes in how
 collective bargaining is conducted under the Railway Labor Act, which governs
 labor relations in the aviation industry as well as the rail industry.
     "The RLA system works, United pilots, Northwest mechanics, and most
 recently Delta pilots are perfect examples," he said.  "Ninety-seven percent
 of the airline industry labor disputes over the past 50 years have been
 settled without strikes.  That wouldn't be the case if the process was
 seriously flawed.  The integrity of the collective bargaining process must
 remain intact.  Why fix something that is not broken?"
 
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SOURCE FedEx Pilots Association
    WASHINGTON, April 25 /PRNewswire/ -- Government interference with the
 collective bargaining process is unlikely to alleviate problems within the
 airline industry and could harm a system that clearly works, the union
 representing the pilots of Federal Express Corporation cautioned today.
     The FedEx Pilots Association (FPA) issued its warning following a hearing
 by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation regarding the
 status of labor issues in the aviation industry.
     At that hearing, Chairman John McCain (R-AZ) contended that the trend
 towards larger airlines has given unions greater leverage in labor
 negotiations, "which appears to have contributed to a mindset that views any
 work stoppage as legitimate" and suggested that acrimonious negotiations have
 an adverse impact on the American people.  As an example, he cited the
 cancellation of more than 23,000 United Air Lines flights last year because of
 pilots' refusal to fly forced overtime.
     "Airline passengers at times may be inconvenienced by labor disputes that
 are unavoidable, and pilots regret that when it happens," said Captain David
 Webb, president of the 3,800-member FPA.  "But pilots not only are within
 their rights to refuse to fly overtime, but also have the responsibility to do
 so, if they do not have adequate rest, which could affect safety.  The real
 issue here is labor being made a scapegoat for airline management's failure to
 adequately staff their respective airlines, and their failure to negotiate in
 good faith."
     At the Senate hearing, FedEx President and CEO Fred Smith testified that,
 even where management and unions are able to reach tentative agreements,
 employees "increasingly reject those proposed contracts, forcing the parties
 to return to the bargaining table."
     Webb noted, however, that such give and take is an important part of the
 process.  "The day of the company store and company housing are long gone," he
 said.  "America believes in a level playing field, and for that to work it has
 to be level for both management and labor.
     "At FedEx -- and this is surely the case with every airline -- labor and
 management have similar goals," he added.  "While we have our disagreements,
 we both want to see the company succeed.  After all, we can't prosper unless
 FedEx prospers."
     Webb cautioned lawmakers against rushing to make any changes in how
 collective bargaining is conducted under the Railway Labor Act, which governs
 labor relations in the aviation industry as well as the rail industry.
     "The RLA system works, United pilots, Northwest mechanics, and most
 recently Delta pilots are perfect examples," he said.  "Ninety-seven percent
 of the airline industry labor disputes over the past 50 years have been
 settled without strikes.  That wouldn't be the case if the process was
 seriously flawed.  The integrity of the collective bargaining process must
 remain intact.  Why fix something that is not broken?"
 
                      MAKE YOUR OPINION COUNT - Click Here
                http://tbutton.prnewswire.com/prn/11690X55259174
 
 SOURCE  FedEx Pilots Association