Champion, Pinnacle Pilots Rally to Protest Slow Progress of Negotiations

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October 10, 2007 - The Champion Air and Pinnacle Airlines pilots conducted their first joint ALPA pilot rally in recent history on the grounds of the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul, Minn. The historic event to protest the cumbersome negotiations process endured by each pilot group for nearly 3 years was coordinated by First Officer Tracy Webb, the Champion SPC chairman, and Capt. Erik Addy, the Pinnacle SPC chairman.

“Pinnacle and Champion pilots are both battling with entrenched managements. These management groups think they can bully us and burn up time at the bargaining table. But from what I see today, management is wrong. I know the ALPA pilots understand the core values of the labor movement and I know those values will hold us together,” said the Champion MEC chairman, Capt. Matt Marsh. “The strength of our solidarity as ALPA members is more than just words. I have seen our solidarity in action. The values embodied in the labor movement are what bring us here today.

Capt. Scott Erickson, the Pinnacle MEC chairman, reiterated those sentiments. “Our strength lies in our numbers. Our strength lies in our dedication. And our strength lies in our unity. It is no longer enough for any of us to stand outside the fire. This fight encompasses every last one of us regardless of our career goals or expectations. Gains made in the Pinnacle and Champion contracts will echo for years to come in the negotiations of other pilot groups and put an end to the downhill slide of career expectations for professional pilots.”

More than 100 pilots from around the ALPA system braved the 45-degree temperatures, blustery winds, and cloudy skies to silently protest in the shadow of ALPA’s 25-foot-tall fat corporate rat on the capitol grounds. The pilots were joined by flight attendants, fuelers, and nonaviation union members.

The day’s events kicked off with a pilot briefing in the Champion MEC offices in Bloomington, Minn. In a “Write a Letter to Congress” campaign, pilots were encouraged to send e-mails to their elected Federal representatives, describing their frustration with management’s unwillingness to negotiate in good faith and the glacial pace of the negotiation process under the Railway Labor Act. Champion has been negotiating since January 2005, and Pinnacle has been negotiating since February 2006. Both sides are in mediated negotiations.

Pilots traveled across the street to conduct informational picketing in front of Champion Air’s corporate headquarters. The 70-strong picketers marched in silence for nearly 30 minutes and carried signs that read: “Minimum Day or No Way,” “The corporate rat is getting fat, Get him off our backs,” “I make less than $22,000,” and “Real Airline, Real Pilots, Real Contract.”

Buses transported the pilots to the capitol grounds where they conducted more picketing, while Marsh and Capt. Neil Miller, the Pinnacle Communications Committee vice-chairman, were interviewed by the local television media.

Additional speakers included Capt. Mike Donatelli (Delta Airlines), the ALPA SPSC chairman; Capt. John Sluys (Alaska), an ALPA Executive Vice-President; Capt. Tom Wychor, ALPA Organizing Committee; Capt. Mark Nagel, Mesaba MEC chairman; Capt. Glenn Miller, Champion Negotiating Committee chairman; and Capt. Ray Miller, Northwest MEC vice-chairman and ALPA Executive Vice-President.