Sun Country Airlines (Minneapolis/St. Paul) could be facing a strike by its pilots represented by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA). The pilots of the airline yesterday (April 24) picketed for higher wages outside of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. ALPA states they are the lowest Boeing 737 scheduled airline pilots in the country. The pilots have authorized a strike if necessary.
The union issued this statement:
Sun Country Airlines Pilots, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association Int’l (ALPA), conducted informational picketing Friday at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, saying the company’s current pay proposal would keep SCA pilot wages near the bottom of the industry for another five years.
Already the nation’s lowest-paid scheduled service airline pilots for their aircraft type, management’s recent proposal would provide only minimal increases. Sun Country pilots last received a pay rate increase in 2005.
“Our current pay is 30 percent below the midpoint for our peers. We’re seeking a contract that gradually gets us closer to the industry average. The company offer keeps us from realizing that goal throughout the life of a new contract,” said Capt. Brian Roseen, chairman of Sun Country’s ALPA Master Executive Council.
Virtually all of Sun Country’s 247 active ALPA pilots not flying or in training marched in shifts outside MSP’s Terminal 2, joined by supporters from United, Delta, FedEx Express, Compass, Endeavor Air, and other ALPA pilot groups.
ALPA and Sun Country have been in negotiations for five years, and in federal mediation since 2012. In February pilots voted 100 percent to authorize ALPA to declare a legal strike if later allowed to do so by the federal government. Before any strike could occur, the National Mediation Board would have to release the pilot group from mediation and the group would have to complete a 30-day cooling off period.
“Under our new ownership Sun Country has been profitable and more than doubled in size. It’s time for them to invest in people the same way they’ve invested in airplanes and facilities,” Roseen said. “We want to negotiate. We’re 100 percent ready to do everything the law allows to lift ourselves up from the bottom of the industry.”
Meanwhile the pilots of Southwest Airlines (Dallas) came to the aid of its fellow pilots at Sun Country. SWAPA issued this statement:
As the pilots of Sun Country (SCA) picket on Friday outside of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, the Southwest Airlines Pilots’ Association (SWAPA) announces support of the SCA pilots’ efforts to obtain an improved contract. Sun Country Airlines pilots are the lowest-paid Part 121 B-737 pilots in the country and have been in contract negotiations for more than five years. In February, the SCA pilots voted nearly unanimously to authorize ALPA to call a legal strike if necessary, upon a release from mediation by the National Mediation Board and the expiration of a cooling-off period.
“Sun Country pilots have the lowest 737 pay rates for scheduled carriers and are about 30 percent below the industry average pay for this equipment,” said SWAPA President Capt. Paul Jackson. “Low fares do not have to equal low wages in our industry and we fully support our friends at Sun Country in seeking a fair agreement.”
Sun Country management has failed to offer industry-standard fair compensation to pilots despite doubling the number of aircraft and profitability in recent years under new ownership. The company’s most recent contract offer would still leave the SCA pilots at the bottom of 737 pilot pay rates for another five years. The SCA pilots’ union leadership is proposing gradual increases toward the industry average, with the goal of reaching middle ground by the end of the contract term.
Top Copyright Photo: Ken Petersen/AirlinersGallery.com. Boeing 737-8Q8 N804SY (msn 30689) prepares to touch down at Las Vegas McCarran International Airport.
Sun Country Airlines aircraft slide show: