Monday, April 27, 2009

Who Do You Want In Your Cockpit?

This is a piece of activism on behalf of a friend, Susan Grant, who is not only a fabulous author, all round super person, but is also a former military pilot, and has flown Jumbo Jets for as long as I've known her.

Here's Susan's explanation of the issue:

Friends, travelers--even if you're a non-pilot or non-airline this is a good time for YOU to decide who you'd like to see in the cockpits of your flights in the near future. Do you want the experience of military trained or airline trained experts, or some kid who chose between goat herding and airline flying (kid...take the goat herding!) from some third world nation that pays their pilots with grain and rice? You don't see this happening? The pilots of United, Aer Lingus, Continental and most other large U.S. airlines do. This goes beyond union propaganda and labor issues. It goes beyond party lines. It goes into the category of AVIATION SAFETY. This takes two minutes. Seriously. Please do it. Click on the active banner in the middle of the message and follow along. Then, tell YOUR friends. Forward to as many people as you can. ....

Here is the message Susan forwarded

On April 7, 2009, the DOT granted tentative approval to United Airline’s Antitrust Immunity filing to include Continental under the Star Alliance network of carriers. This has been a full-on press by United Management and it promises great peril for us and this once great airline. Success would give Management the option to outsource even more pilot jobs and on a much greater scale. The reality of Tilton's management team to operate the “virtual” airline is a mind numbing reality. The Aer Lingus agreement is but the tiniest precursor to what may be in store for us.

(us = pilots)

A “Call to Action” alert has been issued by the MEC Legislative Committee for all pilots to contact their elected officials via the link below and / or by phone. Using the link, all of your elected officials will automatically be identified based on the entry of your address. It is possible that the antitrust immunity could be cancelled or at least modified to help us preserve our jobs and this airline. Please take action today.

This link was provided:

When I clicked the link, I was routed (this is all terribly clever) to my own Senators and Representatives and a form letter template popped up for me to use.

Since I am not a pilot, I modified the first line to inform Representative Peters, Senator Stabenow and Senator Levin that I am a frequent flyer on various American airlines.

In case the "capwiz" link doesn't work for you, here's what I wrote via the ALPA mail system.

Dear [recipient name was automatically inserted here],

As frequent traveller on United Airlines and other airlines, I am writing to express my concern over the lack of protections for labor in the Department of Transportation's tentative approval of Continental Airlines' and United Airlines' joint application for Anti-Trust Immunity (ATI), granted on April 7, 2009. Neither the application, nor the tentative approval granted it by the Department of Transportation, fully explains the ATI relationship between United and Continental in those markets that are not currently "Open Skies." There is no reference to labor in those documents and, in its present form, that relationship likely will cost American jobs if this ATI is approved without modification.

The application states that "…Continental, in conjunction with United and other Star Alliance ATI Carriers, will pursue integrational efficiencies on a global basis in order to reduce costs …" in both Latin America and in the Asia/Pacific region. Many of the countries in these regions currently do not have open skies agreements with the United States, and approval in this form has the clear potential of disadvantaging the American workers of each labor group at each airline. Neither carrier fully explains what cost savings they envision. If this ATI application is approved without protections for labor, both carriers will then have the potential to whipsaw their respective employee groups against each other.

The managements of United Airlines and Continental Airlines are on a fast track for approval of their application. It is our view, however, that enough questions have been raised that this application should be given a full and public hearing. The new Administration needs to fully view, with input from labor, the ramifications of such an approval.

I am not opposed to ATI as long as there are adequate protections for labor; I simply ask that all come to the table to find that solution. This issue is about protecting American jobs. We have had eight years of a dismantling of our industry. The Obama Administration, the Department of Transportation and the Congress must ask the question "Why does this Anti-Trust Immunity need to be on such a fast track?" Congressman Jim Oberstar, Chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee,
believes this to be an issue important enough to move cautiously. We are only asking for a level playing field.

Please use all resources to include language in this Anti-Trust Immunity filing that clearly protects American jobs. Otherwise, I urge you not to approve the United-Continental ATI filing until all issues concerning American workers and American jobs have been properly resolved.

Rowena Cherry

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