Monday, November 14, 2005

Let's get up there!

WISC-TV in Atlanta reports Delta Air Lines said Monday that a strike by the pilots would be "murder-suicide." And there's a lovely photo of a Delta airliner accompanying the article. And it isn't crashing.

NBC Cincinnati adds that Delta is cutting flights out of the Cincinnati Airport by 26 percent. There is no accompanying picture.

The Salt Lake City Tribune can't even bring themselves to comment on today's events. Their latest article was filed 10 November 2005, titled
Delta Continues Its Losses.

We now turn to one of the Arctic's embedded field reporter's on the Delta situation and why their management is making it sound like a couple's therapy session gone horribly wrong.
Sent: Monday, November 14, 2005 5:19 PM
Subject: RE: Murder-suicide!

The important thing here is that this Showdown at the OK Corral has been brewin’ for a while now. It started in 96, when the Delta pilots accepted what they called “B” scale to fly Delta Express (the pre-cursor to Song) flights. Of course, they conveniently forgot that more than 300 pilots were recalled from furlough to make Delta Express happen. And those pilots quickly moved up the ladder to higher paying jobs within 2 years.
So then between ’96 and 1999, United fucked up and tried to buy US Air without telling the pilot sitting on the Board of Directors. (So much for “employee-owned,” right?) In retribution, United pilots glared really hard at the management team, which quickly crumbled and offered a COMPLETELY insane 30% increase as an apology for trying to go around the pilots’ backs. (Remember the horrible summer of 98 or 99 – when United couldn’t keep to the schedule AT ALL? – all based on the pilots being pissy.)
Because the pilots are organized, they have pattern bargaining down to a science. There is ALWAYS an airline pilot group bargaining – and the stated goal of each group is make a little more than the group before them. Great strategy – and highly beneficial but those annoying little things like recessions and downturns force the airlines into massive layoffs about once a decade. Which is fine with the union, because it keeps the membership angry. And an angry membership needs a leader – reminds me a little of Germany in the ‘30s.
So anyway – after United totally screwed up, it was the Delta pilots turn to negotiate their contract – Contract 2000, they called it. They had a couple of nice little rallying cries: “United Plus 1%” and “My Union Speaks For Me” come to mind. So because United screwed the pooch on the % increase they gave the pilots that held their operation hostage over the summer, the Delta pilots figured, “I do the same job as the United guys – I should make more.” Logical.
Contract 2000 comes around and the Delta pilots are so OFFENDED at the MEASLY wage increase they actually conducted a wildcat strike over Thanksgiving 2000. It was finally settled – for exactly what the pilots wanted (United Plus 1%) in the summer of 2001. Just in time for 9/11.
And since 9/11 the pilot group has taken exactly ZERO self-generated actions to pull the company out of the tailspin its in. The hostility has only grown between the pilots and management – and there’s certainly a valid base for the malcontent. When senior leadership took bonuses in 2002/2003, the coffin was nailed shut not just on Leo Mullin’s career there, but also on any chance of a peaceful resolution. The union got more virulent, the company got more content to blame it all on the pilots, and the rest of the employee groups got more and more scared that their jobs were either going away or not worth keeping.
So here we are today, with the pilots threatening Murder-Suicide. What is it about Atlanta-based airlines that make them all want to implode? Nothing was ever learned by the abortion that was Eastern Air Lines in the end. It is a tale of arrogance, pride and unjustified belief that your side is right, and all others are wrong.

Let's hear it for our embedded reporter, out there somewhere in the wilds of Starbucks, and keep those reports coming.

In market news, it was a bad day for the Dow Jones Transportation Average - 14 finished down, 6 up. Outside the index, United Airlines (UALAQ) finished up, at $0.69.

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