Pilot seniority question...

yardman5508's picture

My wife asked me a question this morning that I could not answer, and, bein's as how there are plenty of pilots here, I thought I would ask it here. Understand that I am not asking this to start yet ANOTHER pilot bashing session, but merely to try to understand the situation better.

What is the big deal with the disagreement over pilot seniority between the two merging airlines? Everyone has a "hire date" that determines seniority, don't they? I mean, one NW pilot was hired before another NW pilot, right? Each airline determines seniority based on some criteria. I am sure the criteria are different, but seniority is seniority. If I have x-number of years/months/days for my current airline, why wouldn't I have x-number of years/months/days under the merged system. Any NEW hires would certainly be under some new rules for seniority, but it would seem that existing pilots should carry what they already have gained. To do otherwise would be, in essence, ex post facto.

Looking forward to THIS lively discussion. Keep the faith.

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Submitted by oldbeachbear on Tue, 06/10/2008 - 2:02pm.

Under the contract with Delta, its pilots will get a 3.5 percent stake in the merged airline, which would continue to be called Delta and keep its headquarters in Atlanta. Pilots would also get a board seat, pension improvements and more pay.
In exchange, the merged company would be able to place the Delta code and brand on Northwest flights and retain Northwest's stake in Midwest Airlines.
"We remain committed to working with the ALPA leadership of both the Delta and Northwest pilots to reach a joint pilot agreement before the closing of the merger," Delta CEO Richard Anderson said in a statement.
The deal between Delta and its pilots is "unprecedented," pilot Ed Thiel said. "No pilot group in history has ever gotten a raise and a portion of a company as part of a merger. Normally, we just wake up and read about it in the paper like everybody else."
Delta and Northwest pilots were scheduled to meet for two days this week to begin working out a joint contract, with seniority issues to come later. Leaders of the Northwest pilots union still oppose the merger but are willing to continue talks.

Submitted by oldbeachbear on Tue, 06/10/2008 - 2:22pm.

One problem is the difference in age of their pilots. Northwest pilots are older than Delta pilots because many Delta senior pilots retired prior to airline's 2005 bankruptcy filing.

Northwest still have unresolved issues 22 years after the carrier's combination with Republic Airlines.

Northwest, with its Pacific routes, had a fleet of widebody aircraft and pilots who wanted to fly them, then it bought Republic. Republic pilots came into the ranks, some with years of experience that would put them in line for the big planes ahead of Northwest pilots.

An arbitrator decided that pre-merger Northwest pilots would stay in line for the big jets ahead of Republic pilots. That locked Republic pilots out of widebody flying for decades and caused serious bitterness.
Delta's pilots don't want arrbitration because younger Delta pilots might lose the seniority they obtained after the mass exodus of older pilots, As a result, some of those Delta pilots may be on the same footing as older Northwest pilots who have been flying longer, Kasper said.

There was no similar exodus of veteran Northwest pilots when it went through bankruptcy because the company froze pilot pensions _ so they still got what they had earned, although their pensions stopped growing. Delta terminated its pilots' defined benefit pension plan while the company was in bankruptcy.

Northwest wants seniorty, the normal one year for one year. It this is done thousands of young Delta pilots to go to the bottom of the combined seniorit.
But Greg Rizzuto, a spokesman for Northwest's pilots union, said Wednesday that the labor group is united, and all it wants is what's fair, noting that a pilot's career is tied to his or her seniority ranking.

"The US Airways guys, who were in bankruptcy, if they had their druthers they would have stapled every single America West pilot to the bottom of their seniority list," Mann said. "You have some of the same emotion playing out here."

In others words, fairness, and senority, have ...NOTHING..to do with what the Delta pilots want....get it..?

It is so blatant, a lot of people feel they don't understand it.

AF A-10's picture
Submitted by AF A-10 on Tue, 06/10/2008 - 10:17pm.

You wrote:
"In others words, fairness, and seniority, have ...NOTHING..to do with what the Delta pilots want....get it..?
It is so blatant, a lot of people feel they don't understand it."

You honestly don't know as much as you think you know about our contract. It appears to me that you have done some internet study, but just because I read on the internet how to make stained glass doesn't mean I can go make a stained glass window.
I imagine because you worked for Delta you feel you somehow know what the pilots at the company you retired from are asking for and what all of our concerns are. I will say that after 10 years at Delta, I can't tell you what Delta Mechanics want and desire. I would never be so presumptuous as to try and speak for them.
So, old beachbear (who has admitted to dating pilots. We should schedule a special coffee outing ).... Here is the deal:
In a merger, you don't strictly look for pure seniority-based mergers. The two companies are different entities. Senior Northwest guys still have pensions. Delta guys do not. Compensation and career progression are different at the pre-merger airlines.
What ALPA seeks in a post merger environment is the smallest effect in a pilot's CAREER PROGRESSION . At the end of a merger, we try to have each pilot's ultimate career path disturbed as little as possible by the effects of a merger. If ASA merged with Delta, and an ASA pilot would expect to make $120,000 at the end of their ASA career, you would not do a straight date of hire merger and put them in front of a Delta pilot who would expect a much different rate of compensation at the twilight of his or her career. You would come up with a formula which would allow each pilot to achieve their expected career goals.
If you like, Oldbeachbear, you can presume to know exactly what we Delta guys are asking for. Respectfully, I say you don't have the most accurate view of our contractual concerns, but feel free to offer your opinion. When you start dating Delta pilots again, you'll hope they have the best compensation possible.
Kevin "Hack" King

highflyer2's picture
Submitted by highflyer2 on Mon, 06/16/2008 - 3:47pm.

Next time you want to tell someone what a pilot "really" means, do what I did after 28 years in Air-crew records. Walk outside, get a 3 foot long 2x4 and smash it against your face as hard as you can!
Does it help? No, but it sure does feel better than arguing with a pilot!

Submitted by sageadvice on Tue, 06/10/2008 - 7:27am.

Saying what you did is like a Russian Colonel in the army with 10 years of service, saying he is senior to an American Colonel with 9 years of service.
The Russian Colonel flies a bi-plane, and the American flies a B-747.

That is the problem with unions----time is everything and it means little after certification.

Makes absolutely no sense to pay someone with 25 years twice what someone with 15 years experience makes. More maybe as a loyalty pay, but not twice.

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