Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Striking Pilots Get Little Sympathy

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Striking Pilots Get Little Sympathy

Article excerpt

DALLAS (AP) -- American Airlines pilots will be flying solo in their quest for a bigger paycheck and job security. They're pitted against management, many of their coworkers, the traveling public and President Clinton.

The aviators, who already are among the highest-paid workers in the nation, say they expect no sympathy and know they'll be isolated in pressing their contract demands.

"They're going into this with their eyes wide open," said union president Jim Sovich. The pilots have been negotiating with American since 1994. This past week, talks dissolved and the pilots declared a strike. The potentially crippling walkout, which could have affected one of every five U.S. air passengers, lasted mere minutes before President Clinton intervened to stop it. The White House action merely postponed the showdown between management and the Allied Pilots Association, which represents about 9,300 American pilots. Now, a Presidential Emergency Board will consider the two sides' arguments. In addition to wages, the dispute revolves around who will fly small jets that American plans to buy to replace turboprops now used on commuter-length flights. The three-member board has 30 days to recommend a settlement. If either side rejects the deal, the pilots can again strike after another 30 days and only Congress can stop them. The pilots' decision to take the contract fight this far has left other American workers stuck in the middle. The flight attendant union, which had its own strike in 1993, is officially supporting the better-paid pilots, who make an average of about $120,000 a year. On the other hand, many members of the Transport Workers Union of American, which represents about 27,000 mechanics, simulator pilots, ground instructors, dispatchers and meteorologists, have been vocally opposed. The Air Lines Pilots Association, which represents turboprop pilots at American Eagle, who average about $35,000 a year, is trying its best to stay neutral. Since ALPA represents the 1,900 pilots at American Eagle, as well as jet pilots from several other major carriers, its membership is seeing both sides of the dispute over who should fly the small commuter jets. …

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