Horizon Air and Pilots Enter Mediated Negotiations

Jun 02, 2010, 15:50 ET from Teamsters Union Local 1224

WILMINGTON, Ohio, June 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The pilots of Horizon Air, Inc., represented by the Airline Professionals Association Teamsters Local 1224, last week entered into mediated contract negotiations with Horizon under the oversight of the National Mediation Board.

Horizon and the pilots have been in negotiations to reach a collective bargaining agreement for more than four years and have been unable to conclude negotiations thus far.  Under the Railway Labor Act (RLA), mediated negotiations are the first step in resolving conflict between the two parties.

Horizon Air has recently experienced strong financial improvements and, while their operation remains profitable, they seek pay and benefit concessions from their pilots.  

Horizon is attempting to negotiate directly with the pilots and their families, which calls into question Horizon's willingness to negotiate in good faith.  Just recently, Horizon mailed information setting forth its financial condition addressed to each of its pilot's families.  In failing to include enough postage on the envelope, each pilot was responsible for the postage due.  Many responded by sending the postage due letters back to Horizon, demanding the company stop sending their wives and children propaganda and bargain with the representatives on the Union's negotiating committee.

"The recent conduct by Horizon has created a toxic atmosphere where the morale of the pilot group has deteriorated," said Teamsters Local 1224 President Joe Muckle.  "This is unfortunate because these are the most experienced pilots in the regional airlines.  They do not want a job action, they want a contract."

The pilots employed by Horizon have the full support of Teamsters Local Union No. 1224 and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. They plan to fight for a contract that provides a wage and benefit package that respects the value of the pilots' expertise and allows them to maintain an acceptable quality of life.  The pilots of Horizon have not received a wage increase since 2005.  Meanwhile, executive compensation at Horizon and Alaska Airlines has soared year over year as approved by the Compensation Committee of the Alaska Air Group Board of Directors.  

The union fully recognizes the limitations of artificially forced wage and benefit increases beyond the capability of the business to produce profits.  However, a balance is necessary where management and labor can share in the company's profitability rather than executives receiving inflated pay as a singular reward for cost cutting on the backs of labor.  

Horizon has earned a sound reputation in the industry for customer satisfaction, safety, security and on-time performance.  A pilot's professionalism and skill-set greatly contribute to each of these factors in the success of an airline.  The pilots of Horizon Air are among some of the most experienced pilots in the regional airline industry.  

"The pilots at Horizon have always been proud to be affiliated with a strong company, and equally as proud to be an integral part of the company's success," said Trevor Bulger, Horizon Air Captain and Teamsters Executive Council Chairman.  "Our pilots are a dedicated group, but the recent situation has really left a bitter taste in the mouths of many."

The purpose of mediation under the Railway Labor Act is to foster the resolution of collective bargaining disputes in the railroad and airline industries.  In its mediatory role, the board may employ a variety of methods to resolve the dispute and uses its discretion to determine when mediation has been exhausted. If the NMB determines further mediation will not help the parties reach agreement, binding arbitration is offered to the parties. If either party declines binding arbitration, the parties are released from mediation by the board and a 30-day cooling-off period begins.  If no agreement is reached within the 30-day cooling off period, the parties are released to exercise self help.  However, disputes rarely escalate into disruptions of passenger service.

Horizon serves 48 cities throughout Arizona, California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Baja California Sur (Mexico), and British Columbia and Alberta (Canada). Together, Horizon Air and Alaska Airlines serve more than 90 cities and are subsidiaries of Alaska Air Group, Inc. (NYSE: ALK).

The Airline Professionals Association, Teamsters Local 1224 represents the flight deck crewmembers of cargo and passenger airlines. Its members include ABX Air, Atlas Air, Cape Air, Kalitta Air, Polar Air Cargo, Southern Air and Teamsters Local 747.  Teamsters Local 747 represents the flight crewmembers of Arrow Air, Horizon Air, Gulfstream, Miami Air, Omni Air, Republic Holdings, and USA 3000. 

SOURCE Teamsters Union Local 1224