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August 22, 2014

Envoy pilots union says talks with the company ended with no new contract

Envoy Air's pilots union told its members that talks with the management ended on Thursday with no new contract agreement and the likelihood that larger regional jets will be placed with another carrier.

The regional carrier, which is wholly owned by American Airlines Group, had presented a proposal to American management last week. That proposal was rejected and American intends to find other carriers to fly the larger planes, the Airline Pilots Association's president Bill Sprague said in a note to Envoy's 2,700 pilots sent on Friday.

"We focused on finding solutions to guarantee that the company would re-fleet our carrier while respecting the value we provide as professionals," Sprague said in his letter. "Identifying the core issues was easy. Finding mutually acceptable solutions was extremely difficult."

The company and ALPA had restarted contract discussions this month as American is preparing to place new larger regional jets with a regional carrier. American has 60 new 76-seat Embraer E175 regional jets on order and has already contracted with Compass Airlines to fly 20 of the aircraft, after Envoy pilots overwhelmingly rejected a new contract last March.

“There recently were discussions with Envoy ALPA to see what could be done to make Envoy’s costs more competitive because American would like to place large regional aircraft there,” the company said in a statement. “These talks did not lead to an agreement and without a competitive pilot agreement at Envoy, American’s E175s will not be placed there.”

The Envoy pilots rejected a 10-year contract with the airline that would have frozen pay scales in exchange for providing larger regional aircraft to Envoy. The proposal also provided for pilots to be hired at American Airlines’ mainline operations over the course of the contract.

Instead of giving the 20 E175s to Envoy, American contracted with Compass and the new aircraft are being flown under the American Eagle livery. Ten other regional carriers, including its wholly owned subsidiaries Envoy, PSA and Piedmont, fly under the American Eagle brand.

Keep reading for the full letter from Sprague.

-Andrea Ahles 

Fellow pilots,

Several weeks ago, the company approached the Association and expressed a desire to re-engage in discussions to achieve a structure that AAG believes is necessary to ensure the competitive nature of the regional feed industry. We have always believed that any future agreement must include an updated fleet, a competitive pay structure, and enhanced career protections.

We concluded our latest bargaining effort with company executives yesterday. The effort began with informal discussions to identify and attempt to resolve the areas of the failed TA that were unacceptable to our group. We focused on finding solutions to guarantee that the company would re fleet our carrier while respecting the value we provide as professionals. Identifying the core issues was easy. Finding mutually acceptable solutions was extremely difficult. The MEC met three times and spent countless hours on conference calls to eventually arrive at a proposal that satisfied those requirements.

On Wednesday, company executives rejected that proposal. Their stated intent is to continue seeking lower feed costs at other Fee for Departure carriers, as they did with Compass.

Due to the tentative nature of the discussions, the MEC kept our positions private so as to not disrupt the bargaining process. Your elected representatives have been communicating with you regularly and have a very good grasp of what you expect to see in any future agreement. If there is any future TA, we understand that it must be easily endorsed by the MEC and then ratified by the pilot group.

The proposal we submitted to the Company is included below, as well as the failed TA from earlier this year, so that you can compare them. The company was willing to move from a number of TA positions. However, they remained unwilling to move in areas that were critical to your acceptance.

Here are some points management was willing to adjust:

- Per Diem would go up $.15 over 6 years rather than going down and being frozen for 10 years.

-12/4 would not apply to pilots on the property at date-of-signing if the flow through slows or stops.

-They were willing to provide a lump sum payment of $10,000 payable in part at date-of-signing and the balance at flow to AA, retirement, or 5 years.

Here are some points they weren’t willing to move on or regressed on from the TA:

-All new hires would be on the 12/4 pay scale without any way to achieve the current 18/8.

-Flow through for new hires would be negotiated to share class slots with PDT and PSA.

-A guaranteed fleet plan would be lower than 170 and would have to be flexible in a few areas.

-Pay would be frozen until 2018 and go up by 1% per year for the rest of term and stop during the next bargaining round.

-All other non-mentioned areas of the failed TA would be the same.

The state of our current daily operation shows an inability to attract a sufficient number of recruits, but it also shows that many Envoy pilots are moving onwards and upwards in their aviation careers. In their efforts to operate an airline of our size while lacking the necessary tools to safely do so, the company has found many ways to violate the current collective bargaining agreement. The MEC and leadership are dedicated to protecting and defending the contract. Our contract remains in place. We will enforce it and continue to pursue every opportunity to improve it.

The pilots of Envoy have made it clear: now is time to make this airline an attractive place to work and that responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of upper management. This action is essential to ensure the long-term success of our company.

Finally, we understand that this has been an extraordinary long process, and you have our sincere thanks and appreciation for remaining actively involved. Your unwavering support for your union has brought us this far and your continued support will help us achieve our future goals.

Sincerely,

Bill Sprague

MEC Chairman

 

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