The Main Executive Council (MEC) of the Alaska Airlines Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) voted on April 22, 2022, in an 11-0 vote, to authorize a strike authorization vote and declared the result. The vote to give the MEC the power to declare the strike was cleared after an information picket on April 1, with turnout and enthusiasm beyond the MEC’s expectations. The information picket for furloughed employees and some support flight attendants had more than 1,500 attendees, while Alaska Airlines’ ALPA union chapter has 3,100 members in total. The vote of the 3,100 members to give management the option of declaring a strike only after all means of contractual negotiation have been exhausted runs from May 9 to May 25, 2022.
Not far from a strike… yet
Is this another noble attempt by the Alaska Airlines Pilots Union to draw attention to their concerns as much as this billboard outside the airline’s headquarters? Photo: AvgeekJoe Productions
Even if the vote is positive, which is very likely, the authorization to call a strike is not a formal strike to cease performing contractually obligatory functions. Rather, it is a form of progressive picketing as much as the above billboard and April 1, 2022 information picket of furloughed Alaska Airlines employees and allies.
According to a recent analysis by Simple Flying, federal mediator Mike Tosi must recommend to his bosses at the National Mediation Board (NMB) that there is an impasse between Alaska Airlines’ ALPA chapter and airline management, which does not is currently not the case. The NMB must agree. Then there must be a thirty (30) day cooling off period, but there is a last chance to stop “mutual aid” efforts or strikes, lockouts, etc. by the parties to the labor dispute.
An emergency presidential council may be convened
See according to the National Mediation Council,
The president may create an emergency board to investigate and report on a dispute over the terms of a collective agreement. Under the Railroad Labor Act, the President may exercise his discretion to create an emergency board when the labor dispute “substantially threatens to interrupt interstate commerce to such a degree that it would deprive any section of the country of an essential transportation service”.
The US president can convene a council to influence the Alaska Airlines pilots’ labor dispute if the mediator declares an impasse. Photo: AvgeekJoe Productions
If the US President decides to take this step in the event of a stalemate, which, since Alaska Airlines provides essential transportation services to at least parts of Alaska and Washington, seems likely; activation of the Emergency Presidential Council would then trigger a 30-day review of the situation. After that, a new 30-day “cooling off” period would open in the hope that the two sides could come to an agreement before “mutual aid” in the form of a strike, a lockout of the direction or an attempt to unilaterally impose work rules.
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Motives of the pilots’ union
Captain Will McQuillen, President of Alaska Airlines MEC ALPA, explains that Alaska Airlines pilots want flexible work hours, job security and a successful conclusion to a 3+ year contract negotiation. Photo: Airline Pilots Associationvia Flickr
Captain Will McQuillen, President of Alaska Airlines ALPA MEC, said during an April 22, 2022 interview with Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien on KIRO FM,
… The most important thing we try to do is just get the audience where they want to go. We’re so excited to have the right-sized airline so that we can, you know, help the people of Pacific Northwest get where they want to go. We are very proud of this airline, a great pride, and we want it to succeed, but unfortunately it is in difficulty at the moment.
The Alaska Airlines Pilots Union’s main issues with management are flexible schedules and retention of pilots. According to the ALPA press release and KIRO FM interview, the ALPA chapter of Alaska Airlines is also seeking a contract that will stop the flight of pilot talent to other airlines. The union also conducts exit interviews with pilots who travel to other airlines to see where the problems lie and then take them to management. This is also against the backdrop of an industry pilot shortage.
Although an ALPA spokeswoman kindly let Simple Flying know that public communications between the ALPA chapter and the public will be limited until the votes are counted.
Where do you think this labor dispute between Alaska Airlines and its pilots is headed? Please comment your thoughts below.
Source: ALPA, KIRO-FM, National Mediation Council
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