Guam – The Continental pilots, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association Int’l (ALPA), have filed two group grievances against United to protest violations of scope provisions in their collective bargaining agreement applicable to a merger during the period of separate pilot contracts and operations of the two airlines, legacy Continental and legacy United. The first, filed June 2, 2011, concerns removal of B-767 aircraft from the Continental fleet (by sale). The second charge, filed June 16, 2011, is related to a reduction in the ratio of Continental to United flying required with respect to twin-aisle aircraft, specifically for the third quarter of 2011. ALPA is seeking prompt correction of these issues by the Company, including a stop to any attempts at further sales of B-767 aircraft, correction to the ratio of flying performed by Continental to United, monetary damages and all other appropriate relief.
“Once again, management is seeking short cuts to the merger process and trying an end-run around our contract instead of negotiating at the table,” said Capt. Jay Pierce, chairman of the Continental pilots’ chapter of ALPA. “In the airline industry, attempts to cut corners typically lead to very bad results. Blatantly disregarding our existing contract not only runs contrary to management’s stated interest in reaching ‘fair’ resolution on a new contract, it is no way to make progress toward successfully completing the merger and securing much-anticipated benefits for passengers, shareholders and employees.”
These two incidents mark the second and third time since the merger close date in October 2010 that ALPA has been forced to fight off management attacks to the Continental pilots’ contract. In December, an arbitrator ruled in favor of ALPA and against Continental management in their attempt at circumventing scope provisions related to 70-seat jet flying.
The Continental scope provisions protect pilots’ job security, both generally and during a transaction such as a merger. The provisions reserve for Continental pilots all flying performed by or for Continental or an affiliate, while allowing exceptions for flying that can be performed under code share or by another airline, such as foreign carriers, Continental Connection and Express carriers. During the period of separate operations in a merger, the scope provisions, among other things, prohibit certain types of fleet changes and require that ratios of Continental pilots’ flying to the merger partner’s flying equal or exceed those same ratios prior to the merger.
ALPA represents over 53,000 pilots at 39 airlines in the United States and Canada, including approximately 5000 pilots at Continental Airlines.