Single Point Communication

SOS Update for November 4, 2016

Earlier this month, three unions representing organized labor at Air Wisconsin Airlines Corp. sent an urgent letter to our CEO, Ms. Christine Deister. You can read the full text of the letter here, but to summarize, ALPA, the Association of Flight Attendants, and the Transport Workers Union (which represents our dispatchers) reiterated in writing the questions we have been asking management in person since we began our 2018: Sunrise or Sunset? Campaign last April: what is your plan to save the airline, and if there is a plan, how can we help? Unfortunately, CEO Deister has not acknowledged or responded to the joint labor letter.

At the time the joint labor letter was sent, we were unclear what Envoy Air’s plans to establish a pilot base at LGA meant for us long term, and unaware our own management’s plans to abandon LGA as a domicile. This new information makes our reasonable request that management share its intentions with its own employees even more urgent.

We want to make it very clear that the unions on this property are unified in our goal of representing our members’ interests in understanding the future of our airline. We stand ready to engage management in a meaningful conversation about our future and our livelihoods.  ALPA President Canoll urged CEO Deister to utilize the Association’s resources and volunteers during these tough times, but sadly more than two weeks have passed since the letter was sent and there is no indication of such engagement. Until we hear from AWAC’s leadership, we will continue to make decisions based of the information of today and we urge you to do the same.

We are heartened by the strong support our MEC received from our fellow pilot leaders at the recent ALPA Board of Directors meeting. We were able to make a brief presentation on our SOS campaign to the more than 190 representatives from 31 ALPA airlines in the US and Canada who had attended the BOD. That encouragement, combined with the support we have already received and continue to receive from Captain Canoll and ALPA national, makes it clear that our union has the backs of the Air Wisconsin pilots.

Until next time, Fly Safe and Fly the Contract!

ARW MEC

Ken Reinert, November 5, 2016


URGENT: Navtech Application Update

Be aware that the company, in the process of testing the new version of the Navtech application, has found an error in the current version of the app that will cause the application to cease operating correctly at approximately 1430 ET tomorrow, October 29.

The company has issued an email with instructions on how to update your iPad (company-supplied or BYOD) to version 16.1.67 of the application.  (These instructions are available here). Additionally, the company has provided temporary wifi access in the crew rooms for pilots to use in installing this update. If you are unable to perform this update, there are instructions in the attachment which will give you a workaround until you can update your device.

Please note that although 16.1.67 is iOS 10 compatible, the company is still testing it for full compatibility, and we are not yet authorized to upgrade to iOS 10.

Ken Reinert, October 28, 2016


LGA base closure

Earlier this evening Air Wisconsin announced that it will be closing our base at LGA in January, 2017. The Company has committed that it will be following our contract regarding displacements. As the Company provides more details we will follow up regarding the pilot impacts.

This news from the company is unfortunate but not completely unexpected. Even more unfortunate is the fact that we do not know at this time whether American intends to keep AWAC flying the same block hours, or reduce our flying. The mainline’s actions in the weeks and months to come may provide clues as to their future plans for our airline. Your MEC intends to continue engaging Air Wisconsin’s senior management as to the plan to secure flying for the future.

In the meantime, we continue to urge all pilots to keep an eye on their own futures: Visit ALPA’s Fee for Departure Committee webpage, review the material there, and fill out a Career Progression Form. Keep your resume, logbooks and other records up to date, and take advantage of ALPA’s interview preparation workshops and other career programs.  Using these best practices to secure your future makes sense at any time, but these efforts will be especially important now for pilots during these times of great change in our industry.

Ken Reinert, October 26, 2016


2018:SOS Update for October 10, 2016

Last week Negotiating Chairman Bob Burgess and SPSC Chairman Ken Nesbitt sponsored Coffee and Conversation events in PHL and DCA where they spoke with a large number of the Air Wisconsin pilots about contract negotiations, the latest industrial news, and the future of Air Wisconsin Airlines. The MEC would like to thank each and every one of you that were able to stop by and speak with Bob and Ken. The turnout was really impressive over the course of the three-day event, with well over 50 pilots stopping by each day for a chat and a cup of Joe.

Those pilots included a nice mix of Captains, First Officers, Line Check Airman, and Simulator Instructors.  While many topics were covered, and numerous questions were answered, the most important question for the pilots of Air Wisconsin remains unanswered: what does the future hold for our airline?  To date, senior management has not recognized the pilot-driven campaign in which the title asks the very question: 2018 Sunrise or Sunset? We continue to hear the hollow platitudes that to our knowledge have not produced any results with AAG or any other airline partner. In addition, middle managers yet again are talking about some “big” announcement.  As you may recall, the CEO this summer was unaware why the middle managers were peddling the narrative of a big announcement in the third quarter.

Perhaps the “big announcement” was their way of foreshadowing the most recent contract improvements debuted by AAG’s wholly owned airlines. Envoy, PSA and Piedmont have all received substantial compensation packages and recently Envoy announced that it will be opening a new LGA domicile.

We have asked management about the long-term and short-term implications of Envoy’s New York news, both for our LGA domicile and the entire airline. They have indicated that at this point they are unable to answer that question but have committed to communicating directly with the MEC as soon as information is available. Until that takes place, we are all left attempting to piece together what all these recent developments mean for Air Wisconsin. As we overwhelmingly heard from the pilots this week, the pilot assessment is that this does not bode well for our company.

Due to the inability and inaction of Air Wisconsin, the MEC and the pilot group is forced to make decisions based off the puzzle pieces that we’ve gathered over the last 12 months. Those same puzzle pieces underlie the opinions you shared with us this last week and have moved our campaign into the SOS phase.

In addition, all of you feel like it is time to get a fair contract NOW.  Know this: we hear you. The MEC is committed to fighting for all of you, and we are working to meet these legitimate pilot concerns as quickly as possible.

It should be noted that the turnout for both the phone polling and the emailed survey have been nothing short of impressive. Most of you who stopped by last week had been randomly selected to participate in the phone polling, many of you had already completed the online survey, and in some cases, had done both. We cannot thank you enough for your involvement. The data we get from these are extremely valuable to us.

If you have not taken our emailed survey, please take a few moments to do so.  You do not need your ALPA number to take it, and there is a handy mobile version for those of you with smart phones. The survey takes under five minutes and consists of less than 10 questions. The phone polling has been completed and we expect to receive the results soon. Again, thank you to everyone who participated in this poll.

Also, during last week’s discussion it became very apparent that the morale of the pilot group is quite low. Whether it is the constant re-routes and junior mans, the fact that your colleagues and friends are leaving the airline, or the stress related to not knowing if you will be able to provide for your family soon – all of those factors contribute to the understandably low morale. We again remind you of your obligations: as a member of the Air Line Pilots Association, a professional airline pilot, an employee of Air Wisconsin, and a team member of the American Eagle brand, please do your best to deliver the safest and the best service every day on each and every flight assignment.

For those of you who were unable to attend our Coffee and Conversation this past week, don’t worry, we are scheduling more dates in the near future. The next date is scheduled for Wednesday, October 12th in DCA at the Starbucks outside of Gate 35, and additional dates and locations will be communicated with you as soon as arrangements have been made. One good way to keep track of upcoming ARW events is by signing up for our MEC text service, TextCaster. You can sign up here and the process is quick, painless, and free.

Until next time, Fly Safe and Fly the Contract!

ARW MEC

Ken Reinert, October 10, 2016


2018:SOS update for September 29, 2016

Air Wisconsin Pilots:

Last week we announced that due to recent events at American Airlines’ wholly-owned regional subsidiaries and no clear indication of our futures beyond 2018, the ARW MEC was transitioning our 2018: Sunrise or Sunset campaign to 2018: SOS. It’s clear to us that events in the fee-for-departure industry, especially among the AAG subsidiaries, are moving much faster than anyone had previously anticipated.

To recap those recent events, both PSA and Envoy Air have ratified letters of agreement with dramatic pay increases and retention bonuses for their pilots, including new-hire pay rates of $38 or more. AAG’s third wholly-owned regional, Piedmont, is moving forward with similar plans.

In this message we would like to contrast that positive movement at PSA, ENV and PDT with the challenges we continue to face at ARW, looking at the facts that lay before us which may cue us in on what exactly is happening up in ATW and better allow us to make an educated decision about career expectations at ARW. We all need to take a clear-eyed view of our situation, come to our own conclusions about the outlook, and make measured decisions about our future(s). Here are a few facts that show why we are sending out an SOS.

The Declining Quality of Hotels.

There is nothing to be said here that isn’t already a painful truth for all of us, but let’s delve into some other facts concerning our hotel issues that are lesser known. We have a clear, defined contractual path for hotel approval. For as long as we have had a union contract, hotel selection requires both the Association and ARW representatives to agree on what properties are acceptable. Unfortunately, the company has recently placed us into a hotel that was not approved by either AFA or the Association — the Comfort Inn in BDL — and we had to file a grievance that remains unresolved.

In another case, we have been working to get crews moved out of the Holiday Inn GSP, where the nature of construction appears to have been downplayed or obfuscated during the hotel selection process. Upholding our hotel standards for safety, security, cleanliness and needed amenities has been an uphill battle and we urge everyone to stay active with hotel complaints so we can build a case for change(s) and potential grievances.

Air Wisconsin’s Recent Push to Hire “Instructor Management Pilots.”

A brochure at the AWAC OBAP conference booth indicates that the company is seeking to hire instructor management pilots. The MEC finds this alarming, since it appears to be a measure to attract pilots outside the boundaries of our contract and provide them with a path to build time (in some cases PIC time) in a salaried position. The starting salary offered is $45,000 per year, which is significantly higher than a new hire First Officer under our current CBA. Besides appearing to be a way around the contractual first-year pay rate, the company seems to think that they can allow these pilots to fly as Captains when their seniority wouldn’t otherwise allow such an upgrade. This is very disturbing indeed, especially those who are looking to progress their careers as a Captain (which is nearly everyone) or who are striving to become part of the Training Department.

Negotiations.

As we approach our seventh (!) year of contract negotiations, ask yourself if that lengthy delay indicates that we work for a company motivated to recognize the pilot group and invest in employees and the future of the airline.  While we have made progress in reaching agreements on many of the non-economic items of the contract, much of it is due to the fact that your negotiators have often been able to build upon the previous TA language and not start over again from scratch. It remains to be seen whether the company is really interested in a deal, or if they are going through the motions to give the perception that things are getting done. Ultimately, your leadership urges everyone not to take the passing of TAs in rapid succession as evidence that a full TA is certain to be around the corner. At the end of the day, we may get there and we may not.

So, while other carriers are making great leaps forward, AWAC appears to be standing still, with less than 18 months to go before our airline’s only contract with a mainline carrier expires.

In this climate of uncertainty, it would be very understandable for anyone to become discouraged and possibly complacent about their jobs. The fact of the matter, however, is that the one thing we all can control is the quality of our own work. No matter what transpires here at AWAC, we bear the responsibility of providing reliable and most importantly, safe service to Air Wisconsin and uphold the American Eagle image. That’s what professionalism is all about.

Fly safe and fly the contract.

In Unity,

ARW MEC

Ken Reinert, September 30, 2016


ARW Bulletin: “Sunrise or Sunset” is Now “SOS”

Air Wisconsin Pilots:

Four months ago your MEC launched the “2018: Sunrise or Sunset?” campaign to alert you to the challenges facing our airline and the fact that we have no new business on tap to extend the life of our carrier past February 2018. Our plan was to transition the campaign to a new, more urgent initiative called “SOS” in February 2017 if Air Wisconsin still lacked a plan with a positive

As you can see from the banner at the top of this email, our plans have changed. Like a wise flight crew expediting a departure out of an airport to avoid incoming thunderstorms, fast-moving changes to our segment of the industry have forced us to speed up our timeline. We are now officially in SOS mode at our carrier.

Why the change? Recent developments at other American Airlines feeder carriers lead us to question whether Air Wisconsin is part of American’s plan going forward.

  • American is investing heavily in its wholly-owned FFD partners PSA, Envoy, and Piedmont.
  • We are losing aircraft with no replacements for our fleet of aging 50-seaters that no one seems to want, as the mainline continues to assign new, state-of-the-art aircraft to their other partners.

In addition, based on their recent actions it appears our management is losing whatever interest they might once have had to stay competitive with their peers.

  • Grievances are growing as management seems to be treating our contract as voluntary rather than mandatory.
  • We are now beginning our seventh year of negotiations with no major advances in the key cornerstone areas of our contract: pay, scope, and benefits.
  • Management has stopped communicating with the employees and is relying on platitudes and hope rather than explaining what their plan is to keep us flying.

While AWAC appears to be standing still, other carriers are making great leaps forward thanks in part to support from AA.

One week ago on September 13, the PSA MEC announced it had reached an agreement with their company to dramatically increase compensation for their pilots. Just one day later, on September 14, the Envoy MEC announced a similar retention bonus program put forward by their company that increased new-hire pay rates by more than 46 percent.

Here’s how the new PSA and ENY deals stack up. The information for both these properties comes from pilot messages put out by the respective MECs.

PSA

Starting pay for new-hire First Officers and First Officers who have not yet completed their first year of service will significantly increase, from $24.62 per hour to PSA’s current 3rd-year blended pay rate of $38.50 per hour. Upon reaching their first anniversary, new-hire FOs will progress to the anticipated fourth-year blended rate-of-pay of $40.28 per hour. All First Officers currently in their second or third year with PSA will immediately move to the current fourth-year rate. PSA will continue to offer all new-hire pilots a $15,000 sign-on bonus, with an additional $5,000 for new-hire pilots with a CRJ-type rating.

First Officers hired after May 1, 2016 and First Officers hired under the new Agreement will be eligible to receive a $20,000 retention bonus once they mark their one-year anniversary with the company. The bonus includes a payout of $2,500 per quarter beginning on the first quarter following their anniversary date and continuing over two years, or until a First Officer is upgraded to Captain.

All Captains at PSA at the time of signing the Letter of Agreement will receive a $7,500 retention bonus to be paid out in three $2,500 installments through December 2017. If a Captain flows to American before receiving all of the retention bonus, the unpaid portion will be paid when he or she joins American.

ENVOY

First-year pay at Envoy has been temporarily increased to $37.90 an hour, which was historically ENV’s third-year FO pay. Assuming 75 hours of pay a month plus the $15,000 to $20,000 bonus, a first-year pilot at Envoy Air will make between $49,000 and $54,000.

All other FOs on property will receive compensation increases in the form of step raises, outlined below.

Current Step and Pay Rate New Step and Pay Rate Increase %
1st year FOs – $25.84/hr hour 3rd year pay – $37.90/hr 46.6% raise
2nd year FOs – $34.91/hr 4th year pay – $39.78/hr 14% raise
3rd year FOs – $37.90/hr 5th year pay – $40.79/hr 7.6% raise
4th year FOs – $39.78/hr 5th year pay – $40.79/hr 2.5% raise

 

First Officers already on fifth year pay and above will receive an additional $2,500 bonus in addition to the $5,000 already guaranteed from a December 2014 TA, approximately a 6% raise at their current pay steps.

Envoy Captains will receive $7,500 incrementally throughout the next 16 months, roughly the equivalent of a 9% raise.

PDT

It is our understanding American’s third wholly-owned subsidiary, Piedmont, will follow with a similar compensation package as PSA and Envoy MEC’s have announced.

Meanwhile, ARW is near the bottom of the list when it comes to first-year pay and bonuses.

year-1-salary-and-bonuses

All of the carriers listed below are offering bonuses for both new hires and current pilots. We show Air Wisconsin for comparison purposes only.

ffd-carrier-salary-components

One year ago when we were in the final stages of working on what ultimately became a failed tentative agreement, management’s mantra was that they couldn’t afford to pay us more because AWAC already led the industry in pilot compensation. They certainly cannot make that claim today. Under these new agreements at the wholly-owned AA carriers, new hires at Envoy and PSA will earn more than 4th-year ARW FOs the moment they step on the property. There is a hiring war going on for qualified pilots, and Air Wisconsin is standing still as carriers like Envoy, PSA and Endeavor unveil attractive new compensation packages and various paths for their pilots to move up to the mainline.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the best opportunity for survival as a fee-for-departure airline is to either be highly diversified with several mainline partners (like SkyWest and Republic) or be wholly-owned (like PSA and Envoy). As a single-partner FFD carrier with no flow agreement or career path program, we have neither or those advantages leaving our future in grave doubt.  As ALPA has said, there is not a pilot shortage but rather a pilot PAY shortage. The company cannot stand pat with its current pay scale any longer and expect to be competitive. The game has changed and with neither a clear path going forward nor market-rate pay, AWAC will fall further behind until it responds to one or both of those challenges.

Meetings have been held today with members of the ARW SPC and national SPSC committees to begin planning a new strategy to assist our members in continuing to maximize their careers in these turbulent times. In future SOS messages your MEC will provide more detail on the industry environment and ARW’s position relative to our competitors.

Until then, fly safe and fly the contract.

In Unity,

ARW MEC

 

Ken Reinert, September 24, 2016


New issue of the Wiss-key

The Summer 2016 issue of the Wiss-key is now available.  Click here to download and read it!

Ken Reinert, September 23, 2016


July 2 Fastread –Sick Call Scare Tactics

Rusty Ayers, July 6, 2016


July 1, 2016 Pay Day Hotline is published!

The July 1 PDH is out; check your email or read it here!

Ken Reinert, July 2, 2016


ARW MEC Meeting Wrap-up

The ARW MEC wrapped up its summer meeting Wednesday in Appleton with a focus on strategic planning in various shapes and forms. Former ARW MEC Chair Richard Swindell, who is now an F/O at United and working for the ALPA national Strategic Preparedness and Strike Committee (SPSC) briefed the group on the status of the “2018: Sunrise or Sunset?” campaign. The MEC also heard a briefing from our pollster, Phil Comstock, on the results of our recent telephone survey. We got great data from the pilot group on your expectations for the MEC, management, and our next contract. This information is very useful to us as we continue negotiations and strategic planning.

After lunch Tuesday the MEC went into executive session and welcomed AWAC Chief Executive Christine Deister. Every MEC officer and rep questioned the CEO for almost two hours and we had a wide-ranging discussion. Ms. Deister acknowledged there is a desire by the pilots for information about the future beyond 2018 in which she hopes to be able to communicate at some point. During the meeting the company has confirmed there is no “big announcement” planned in Q3 as the pilots have been hearing during ground school visits. We appreciated the time she took to come and speak with us. Unfortunately, there is no new news to report at this point regarding the future of the airline.

After the meeting with the Company the MEC received a comprehensive brief from the Communications Committee about the new tools they are introducing to the already robust line up of communications platforms available to the MEC.  As you have seen a Twitter Handle has already been introduced (@ARWALPACOMMS) with another tool to be rolled out this summer.  Matt Chadwick, member of the FFD committee supporting resource coordinator Paul Ryder, gave a legislative affairs briefing explaining the utter importance of the MEC involvement and the pilots in different battle the Association is fighting on your behalf.  He also explained the need for FFD pilots to engage in ALPA Calls to Action (C2A’s) and donate to the PAC.  ARW is leading in C2A’s but has room for improvement in PAC participation.

The MEC wrapped up its meeting Wednesday morning and then headed to the airport for the annual ALPA headquarters picnic. Because the hangar was occupied, the airport authorities had us hold the picnic under a couple of large tents set up on the far side of the airport near the Gulfstream hangars. Although the location was across the parking lots from the AWAC offices no one seemed to mind, and we all enjoyed the beautiful weather and the chance to share burgers and brats with about 150 of our fellow employees, including the recurrent training class. This event is always one of the high points of the year for the MEC, and we’ll post some pictures on the ARW ALPA Facebook page soon.

Our next MEC meeting will be in October in Washington, DC just prior to the biennial ALPA Board of Directors meeting.

Ken Reinert, June 24, 2016


Air Wisconsin MEC Opens Summer Meeting, Elects Officers

The ARW MEC held the first day of its summer meeting today in Appleton. After hearing officer reports, the MEC held balloting to elect a new slate of MEC officers. Current Chairman Chris Suhs, Vice-Chairman Thorne Saylor, and Secretary-Treasurer Graham Hoff-Downing were unanimously elected to new two-year terms which will start August 25. The MEC also re-appointed its entire slate of committee chairmen and elected Andrew Payne as the new Hotel Committee chair.

MEC officers and representatives from councils 49, 50 and 51 heard presentations from several key committees, including a detailed update on negotiations from Negotiating Chairman Bob Burgess. Currently the union and the company have TA’d 12 contract sections and exchanged proposed language on five more sections. Additional sessions with the federal mediator are scheduled for July 25-29 in Chicago and August 15-17 in Milwaukee.

The MEC also heard from Training Committee Chair Charlie Mader and Grievance Chair Ken Nesbitt, as well as a briefing by telephone from Delta Capt. Roger White on ALPA’s national strategic plan. MEC reps will help revise the plan at the national union’s Board of Directors meeting this October in Washington, DC.

The MEC meeting resumes tomorrow with briefings on polling, communications, legislative affairs, MEC strategic planning, and the status of the “2018: Sunrise or Sunset?” campaign. It concludes on Wednesday with the ALPA-sponsored picnic for headquarters employees at the Appleton Airport.

Ken Reinert, June 21, 2016


June 15 Pay Day Hotline is released

The June 15, 2016 PDH is out… it should be in your email and can also be read here.

Ken Reinert, June 16, 2016


Air Wisconsin Pilots Launch “2018: Sunrise or Sunset?” Campaign

Pilots Seek Answers About Their Airline’s Future

HERNDON, Va.—Facing questions from pilots about the future of their airline, Air Wisconsin’s ALPA leaders have launched a new campaign to encourage management to share their plans to attract new business.

The “2018: Sunrise or Sunset?” campaign acknowledges the reality that Air Wisconsin Airlines Corp. (AWAC) has no flying contracted for beyond February 2018, and has not shared any information on how it plans to continue operating past that date.

“The industry for quite some time now has been trending away from Air Wisconsin’s 50-seat business model and, although we don’t know what the future holds for the 50-seat market, the 50-seat fleet continues to be reduced by all the mainline carriers,” said Air Wisconsin ALPA Master Executive Council chairman Capt. Chris Suhs. “The employees of Air Wisconsin deserve to know what’s happening, good or bad, so we can plan our careers.”

With 69 50-seat CRJ200 aircraft and approximately 780 pilots, Air Wisconsin is the largest privately held regional airline in the United States. But it has not contracted any new flying in more than a decade since it ended its partnership with United Airlines and began a new relationship with US Airways.

With US Airways now merged with American Airlines, Air Wisconsin is operating as an American Eagle carrier. American extended AWAC’s contract extension in 2015, but that deal expires in just 22 months.

The point of “2018: Sunrise or Sunset?” is to gain information on management’s plans so that pilots can help both the airline and themselves move forward.

“We’re not talking about the company going out of business; we’re asking the company to tell us what it is doing to stay in business,” Suhs explained. “Ideally that includes new airplanes, new contracts, or a new extension from American. We’d like the opportunity to be a part of the solution.”

Founded in 1931, ALPA is the largest airline pilot union in the world and represents over 53,000 pilots at 31 U.S. and Canadian airlines. Visit the ALPA website at www.alpa.org or follow us on Twitter @WeAreALPA.

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CONTACT: ALPA Media, 703-481-4440 or Media@alpa.org

Ken Reinert, June 6, 2016


Show Your Support for 2018: Sunrise Or Sunset?

As you are now all aware, the 2018: Sunrise or Sunset? communications campaign is now underway. Your MEC launched this initiative both to request that the company communicate its future business plans with us, as well as to communicate with you our pilot membership, the uncertainty that exists here at Air Wisconsin.

Starting soon, you will have the opportunity to show your solidarity with your fellow pilots by picking up iPad cloths, pens, and other items at various times and locations in the coming months.  You will also be receiving a bag tag in the mail we are asking you to display in support of the campaign. All these items ask our management the same question: whether 2018 is the beginning or the end for our carrier once its current agreement with American Airlines expires.

Next week will be your first opportunity to pick up 2018: Sunrise Or Sunset? materials at our Coffee & Conversation events.  Former ARW MEC Chairman and ALPA National SPSC Member Richard Swindell, as well as MEC Chairman Chris Suhs and MEC ST Graham Hoff-Downing, will be on hand as well as various members of the MEC and other committees to answer questions and discuss career options outside of Air Wisconsin.

For pilots unable to meet directly with our pilot leaders or for those desiring an additional opportunity to talk about the future of Air Wisconsin, the MEC will be hosting two all-pilot conference calls in May as well.

We encourage all pilots to help us carry the message to our management group to simply share with us their concrete plan for the future.  We don’t want to hear ambiguous comments about “industry opportunities,” or nebulous remarks about being “aggressive about staying in business;” these are just platitudes designed to distract attention from the fact that –Air Wisconsin has not secured any new flying business in more than a decade.  So join your MEC and fellow pilots in the discussion, help us let the company know that we deserve honest answers about our future with this company so that we may all be in a position to look for industry opportunities and be aggressive about preserving our careers and livelihoods.

In Unity,

ARW MEC

Ken Reinert, May 9, 2016


MEC Podcast – Communications Update

Communications Chairman Ken Reinert gives a short update on some ongoing communictaions projects, including a call for Wiss-key articles, an update on the new ARW MEC web site, and a reminder of the Call to Action to #denyNAI.  Listen to the podcast by clicking here.

Ken Reinert, May 6, 2016


ALPA Support for 2018: Sunrise or Sunset

By now you have probably read the April 25th letter published by your MEC entitled 2018: Sunrise Or Sunset? This new ARW MEC campaign asks the company to let the pilot group know what Air Wisconsin’s business plans are after February 2018, when our contract with American Airlines is scheduled to expire.

Because prepping pilots for the very real possibility that Air Wisconsin will no longer exist or will rapidly draw down after February 2018 takes considerable time and tools, your MEC asked ALPA President Tim Canoll for additional resources to support ARW pilots and the 2018: Sunrise Or Sunset? campaign.  With the approval of United MEC Chairman Todd Insler, Capt. Canoll appointed United First Officer and former ARW MEC Chairman Richard Swindell  to support Captain Chris Suhs and the ARW MEC as a member of the ALPA National Strategic Preparation and Strike Committee.

Most of you will recall Richard’s long tenure here at Air Wisconsin as a pilot and ALPA volunteer who served as ARW Master Chairman prior to Chris Suhs. Many of you know Richard personally, and of course the AWAC executives in Appleton remember him as well. The MEC believes Richard’s deep understanding of our airline and our pilot group makes him an ideal support asset for our group, keeping you informed about our futures here at AWAC and options for exporting your careers to other carriers and segments of the aviation industry.

Richard has already started working with Chris and the MEC to encourage the company to simply tell us what the future holds for Air Wisconsin employees.  Sunrise or sunset, you have earned the right to know which direction this company is heading so that you may best position your career and family for stability and success.  Richard will also be assisting the MEC with pilot and pilot family communications and outreach as a part of the 2018: Sunrise Or Sunset? campaign.

Please understand that this campaign is about communicating – with you as well as the company.2018:Sunrise Or Sunset? is about expecting the company to exercise its corporate responsibility and meet its moral obligations to its employees. We deserve to know whether our employer reasonably expects to be in business beyond February 2018, and if so, how? In addition, the campaign is about preparing yourself and making decisions about your career and the ability to support your family beyond February 2018 with the facts as they are presented today.

As we said in our message on April 25 that launched this campaign and in last week’s podcast, simply wanting to be in business does not in and of itself constitute an actionable or attainable business plan.  If the odds are currently against the company continuing to stay in business beyond February 2018, then Air Wisconsin employees need to know in order to start considering options.

In the near future, you will have the opportunity to demonstrate our pilot group’s solidarity by collaborating with your MEC in asking our corporate leaders whether 2018 will be a sunrise or sunset for Air Wisconsin by displaying bag tags and other campaign paraphernalia, as well as speaking to your union leaders and fellow pilots about our collective future.  Additionally, please join your MEC in welcoming Richard Swindell back to serving and supporting the Air Wisconsin pilot group, and continue monitoring your email inbox, listening to weekly MEC podcasts, viewing the MEC website and Facebook page for updates and developments as we continue to represent you and the question of 2018: Sunrise or Sunset? is ultimately answered.

In Solidarity,

Your ARW MEC

Ken Reinert, May 2, 2016


MEC Chairman’s Podcast for April 29

MEC Chairman Chris Suhs talks about the MEC’s 2018: Sunrise or Sunset campaign in this week’s podcast, which you can listen to here.

Ken Reinert, April 29, 2016


2018: Sunrise or Sunset?

Recently your ARW MEC held its first meeting of the year at ALPA HQ in Herndon, VA. One of the top items on the agenda was discussing the future of our airline. Many of you will remember the MEC’s 2014 “Do I Have a Future Here?” campaign – an effort to encourage management to share their corporate survival plan with us and, if they did not, encourage pilots to consider their career options.

Unfortunately, we find ourselves in this same position again, so we are launching a new information campaign called “2018: Sunrise or Sunset?”

With spring having officially arrived and looking forward to the rapidly approaching uptick in the summer flying season, many of you have asked how many summers we have left at Air Wisconsin. The conclusion of the jet services agreement extension allowing Air Wisconsin to continue flying with American Airlines for approximately 24 months expires in February 2018, a date that is also rapidly approaching.  Unfortunately, with no indication from management on how they plan to keep the airline running 22 months from now, we find ourselves transitioning from questioning “Do We Have a Future Here,” to “How much longer do we have?”

Although your MEC has repeatedly asked the company on your behalf, “Does Air Wisconsin want to stay in business, and if so, how will it stay in business?” the response is always the same: “Yes, we want to stay in business, but we cannot share the plan with you.”

Unfortunately, a desire to stay in business does not equate to a plan for staying in business.  Additionally, the current industry environment and mainline trend of reducing 50-seat flying and their associated dependence on regional jet aircraft is moving as rapidly away from Air Wisconsin as February 2018 is approaching us. This industry shift may well be out of the control of company managers and owners, and when the music stops, where does this leave the pilots of Air Wisconsin?  If the company cannot or will not disclose details that directly affect the lives of every employee and employee group on the property, then we must each make hard decisions and take the necessary steps now to provide for our individual futures.

With this in mind, it has become clear to your MEC that Air Wisconsin pilots face a quickly approaching reality and must begin making plans for their careers and families beyond February 2018. Absent any hard information from management that they have a plan to stay in business, merely hoping that Air Wisconsin will survive is not a viable strategy for any of us. As has often been said, fear is not a strategy – but neither is hope. We cannot force the company to make a corporate plan, but we definitely can encourage our members to execute personal career plans. This is why we are launching our “2018: Sunrise or Sunset?” campaign.

Regardless of what management’s plan or lack of a plan is, ALPA stands ready to reasonably participate and assist in a solution. Moreover, ALPA is prepared to work jointly with the company to develop a letter of agreement ensuring that pilots remain engaged and supporting the operation until the last plane has landed and Air Wisconsin Airline Corporation has itself flown west.  But again, we cannot do this without the company meeting its reasonable and fair obligation to its employees to provide accurate and timely information. We cannot ignore the fact that as of today our airline has no one to fly for past February 2018. We all must face facts and act accordingly, however unpleasant those facts may be.

Although it remains unclear whether the sun may be setting on Air Wisconsin, the sun is finally rising again on the North American airline industry overall, and career opportunities exist for pilots and other aviation professionals who wish to transport their valuable skill set to those companies with a future to offer.  None of us want to see our carrier’s long legacy as well as the last air carrier based in Wisconsin to come to an end, but we can no longer ignore or hope against these odds absent some kind of plan from the company.

As we continue closing in on the end of the flying contract with American Airlines, ALPA stands ready to work with the Association of Flight Attendants and International Aerospace Machinists to provide as much information and support as possible to prepare you for the future and enable good decision-making. Whether the Air Wisconsin leadership will reciprocate and provide reliable data allowing us to plan for our lives past 2018 is unknown. Whether we face Sunrise or Sunset, we want you to be ready, we will keep trying to get necessary information, and we will keep you informed.

In Solidarity,

Your ARW MEC

Ken Reinert, April 25, 2016


The X-RAY – March Negotiations Report

A new X-RAY has been published and sent by email, and will be available on the web archive shortly.  It is a summary of the Negotiating Committee’s meeting with the company in SAT last month, and the first time the two have met since the rejected TA.

Ken Reinert, April 1, 2016


April 1 Pay Day Hotline

The April 1, 2016 Pay Day Hotline has beed added to the web page archive.

In this issue: Negotiations Update; Resignations and Sick Calls; Event Review Safety Program; ATC Reporting and FAA Letters of Investigation; Rest Rules 117.25: how to figure out pilot’s rest; ALPA District Advocate: My Story; Upcoming issue of the Wiss-key; Upcoming Dates

Ken Reinert,


March 15 Pay Day Hotline

The March 15, 2016 Pay Day Hotline has beed added to the web page archive.

In this issue: URGENT – BENEFITS AUDIT DUE MARCH 22; ARW MEC Post-Meeting Update; Negotiating Committee Chairman Election; Committee Activity for February 2016; A Message to All Future Volunteers; PDH Extra: Volunteer of the Quarter – CA Dave Wilcox; Medical Reimbursement Value Increases; AWAC Departure Checklist; February 2016 Resignations; Upcoming Dates.

Ken Reinert, March 20, 2016


URGENT FastRead: Health Insurance Audit

New FastRead banner 2014 800px wide

URGENT – PLEASE READ!! 

You may have recently received a letter from an independent audit company, on behalf of the Air Wisconsin Benefits Department, requesting information on the dependents you claim for medical and dental insurance. This letter from Willis Towers Watson should have included a self-addressed stamped envelope to submit documentation proving your dependent’s eligibility in the medical and dental plans.

It is imperative that you follow the instructions carefully, as outlined in the letter, and return the information and documentation as instructed.  If you do not, there is a very real risk that your spouse and children will be dropped from the Air Wisconsin insurance plans.  Because the company has only distributed this important request via the USPS, your ARW MEC is concerned that some pilots may be unaware of the letter, or may have mistakenly discarded it as junk mail.  If you have not seen this letter, or have discarded or otherwise misplaced it, please call the Air Wisconsin Benefits Department to determine the best course of action to meet the requirements of the audit.

YOU MUST RESPOND TO THE AUDIT LETTER BY MARCH 22 OR YOU RUN THE RISK OF YOUR SPOUSE/PARTNER AND/OR CHILDREN LOSING THEIR HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGE.

Some of you may find it will take time tracking down documentation such as birth certificates, naturalization documents, marriage certificates, etc., especially if you are required to obtain this documentation from a country outside the United States.  If you will not be able to meet, or feel you’ll struggle to meet, the March 22 deadline demanded by AWAC to provide this documentation it is imperative that you immediately contact the Air Wisconsin Benefits Department to work out an alternate plan.

Due to the adverse consequences of not replying, ALPA recommends that you submit whatever documentation you have by the March 22 deadline even if it is not fully compliant, and then follow up with the Air Wisconsin Benefits Department to discuss your incomplete documentation as well as options to make sure that your dependents are not dropped from your insurance plan while you are waiting to complete the document request.

If you are unable to meet the deadline, have a question as to whether you will meet the deadline, or have any other questions regarding the audit, please contact these individuals at the Air Wisconsin Benefits Department.

Stan Petersen Gauthier
920-749-4271
Stan.Petersen-Gauthier@airwis.com
Gregg Garvey
920-749-7519
Gregg.Garvey@airwis.com
Sarah Peters
920-749-7589
Sarah.Peters@airwis.com

 

The MEC does not take issue with the need for a benefits audit, and we support the company’s efforts. Our concern is how this vital information was distributed to the pilot group and the potential it raises for family members to be mistakenly removed from group health insurance coverage.

–Your Air Wisconsin MEC Retirement & Insurance Committee

Ken Reinert, March 9, 2016





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SOS Update for November 4, 2016

URGENT: Navtech Application Update

LGA base closure

2018:SOS Update for October 10, 2016

2018:SOS update for September 29, 2016

ARW Bulletin: “Sunrise or Sunset” is Now “SOS”

New issue of the Wiss-key

July 2 Fastread –Sick Call Scare Tactics

July 1, 2016 Pay Day Hotline is published!

ARW MEC Meeting Wrap-up

Air Wisconsin MEC Opens Summer Meeting, Elects Officers

June 15 Pay Day Hotline is released

Air Wisconsin Pilots Launch “2018: Sunrise or Sunset?” Campaign

Show Your Support for 2018: Sunrise Or Sunset?

MEC Podcast – Communications Update

ALPA Support for 2018: Sunrise or Sunset

MEC Chairman’s Podcast for April 29

2018: Sunrise or Sunset?

The X-RAY – March Negotiations Report

April 1 Pay Day Hotline

March 15 Pay Day Hotline

URGENT FastRead: Health Insurance Audit

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Earlier this month, three unions representing organized labor at Air Wisconsin Airlines Corp. sent an urgent letter to our CEO, Ms. Christine Deister. You can read the full text of the letter here, but to summarize, ALPA, the Association of Flight Attendants, and the Transport Workers Union (which represents our dispatchers) reiterated in writing the questions we have been asking management in person since we began our 2018: Sunrise or Sunset? Campaign last April: what is your plan to save the airline, and if there is a plan, how can we help? Unfortunately, CEO Deister has not acknowledged or responded to the joint labor letter.

At the time the joint labor letter was sent, we were unclear what Envoy Air’s plans to establish a pilot base at LGA meant for us long term, and unaware our own management’s plans to abandon LGA as a domicile. This new information makes our reasonable request that management share its intentions with its own employees even more urgent.

We want to make it very clear that the unions on this property are unified in our goal of representing our members’ interests in understanding the future of our airline. We stand ready to engage management in a meaningful conversation about our future and our livelihoods.  ALPA President Canoll urged CEO Deister to utilize the Association’s resources and volunteers during these tough times, but sadly more than two weeks have passed since the letter was sent and there is no indication of such engagement. Until we hear from AWAC’s leadership, we will continue to make decisions based of the information of today and we urge you to do the same.

We are heartened by the strong support our MEC received from our fellow pilot leaders at the recent ALPA Board of Directors meeting. We were able to make a brief presentation on our SOS campaign to the more than 190 representatives from 31 ALPA airlines in the US and Canada who had attended the BOD. That encouragement, combined with the support we have already received and continue to receive from Captain Canoll and ALPA national, makes it clear that our union has the backs of the Air Wisconsin pilots.

Until next time, Fly Safe and Fly the Contract!

ARW MEC

Be aware that the company, in the process of testing the new version of the Navtech application, has found an error in the current version of the app that will cause the application to cease operating correctly at approximately 1430 ET tomorrow, October 29.

The company has issued an email with instructions on how to update your iPad (company-supplied or BYOD) to version 16.1.67 of the application.  (These instructions are available here). Additionally, the company has provided temporary wifi access in the crew rooms for pilots to use in installing this update. If you are unable to perform this update, there are instructions in the attachment which will give you a workaround until you can update your device.

Please note that although 16.1.67 is iOS 10 compatible, the company is still testing it for full compatibility, and we are not yet authorized to upgrade to iOS 10.

Earlier this evening Air Wisconsin announced that it will be closing our base at LGA in January, 2017. The Company has committed that it will be following our contract regarding displacements. As the Company provides more details we will follow up regarding the pilot impacts.

This news from the company is unfortunate but not completely unexpected. Even more unfortunate is the fact that we do not know at this time whether American intends to keep AWAC flying the same block hours, or reduce our flying. The mainline’s actions in the weeks and months to come may provide clues as to their future plans for our airline. Your MEC intends to continue engaging Air Wisconsin’s senior management as to the plan to secure flying for the future.

In the meantime, we continue to urge all pilots to keep an eye on their own futures: Visit ALPA’s Fee for Departure Committee webpage, review the material there, and fill out a Career Progression Form. Keep your resume, logbooks and other records up to date, and take advantage of ALPA’s interview preparation workshops and other career programs.  Using these best practices to secure your future makes sense at any time, but these efforts will be especially important now for pilots during these times of great change in our industry.

Last week Negotiating Chairman Bob Burgess and SPSC Chairman Ken Nesbitt sponsored Coffee and Conversation events in PHL and DCA where they spoke with a large number of the Air Wisconsin pilots about contract negotiations, the latest industrial news, and the future of Air Wisconsin Airlines. The MEC would like to thank each and every one of you that were able to stop by and speak with Bob and Ken. The turnout was really impressive over the course of the three-day event, with well over 50 pilots stopping by each day for a chat and a cup of Joe.

Those pilots included a nice mix of Captains, First Officers, Line Check Airman, and Simulator Instructors.  While many topics were covered, and numerous questions were answered, the most important question for the pilots of Air Wisconsin remains unanswered: what does the future hold for our airline?  To date, senior management has not recognized the pilot-driven campaign in which the title asks the very question: 2018 Sunrise or Sunset? We continue to hear the hollow platitudes that to our knowledge have not produced any results with AAG or any other airline partner. In addition, middle managers yet again are talking about some “big” announcement.  As you may recall, the CEO this summer was unaware why the middle managers were peddling the narrative of a big announcement in the third quarter.

Perhaps the “big announcement” was their way of foreshadowing the most recent contract improvements debuted by AAG’s wholly owned airlines. Envoy, PSA and Piedmont have all received substantial compensation packages and recently Envoy announced that it will be opening a new LGA domicile.

We have asked management about the long-term and short-term implications of Envoy’s New York news, both for our LGA domicile and the entire airline. They have indicated that at this point they are unable to answer that question but have committed to communicating directly with the MEC as soon as information is available. Until that takes place, we are all left attempting to piece together what all these recent developments mean for Air Wisconsin. As we overwhelmingly heard from the pilots this week, the pilot assessment is that this does not bode well for our company.

Due to the inability and inaction of Air Wisconsin, the MEC and the pilot group is forced to make decisions based off the puzzle pieces that we’ve gathered over the last 12 months. Those same puzzle pieces underlie the opinions you shared with us this last week and have moved our campaign into the SOS phase.

In addition, all of you feel like it is time to get a fair contract NOW.  Know this: we hear you. The MEC is committed to fighting for all of you, and we are working to meet these legitimate pilot concerns as quickly as possible.

It should be noted that the turnout for both the phone polling and the emailed survey have been nothing short of impressive. Most of you who stopped by last week had been randomly selected to participate in the phone polling, many of you had already completed the online survey, and in some cases, had done both. We cannot thank you enough for your involvement. The data we get from these are extremely valuable to us.

If you have not taken our emailed survey, please take a few moments to do so.  You do not need your ALPA number to take it, and there is a handy mobile version for those of you with smart phones. The survey takes under five minutes and consists of less than 10 questions. The phone polling has been completed and we expect to receive the results soon. Again, thank you to everyone who participated in this poll.

Also, during last week’s discussion it became very apparent that the morale of the pilot group is quite low. Whether it is the constant re-routes and junior mans, the fact that your colleagues and friends are leaving the airline, or the stress related to not knowing if you will be able to provide for your family soon – all of those factors contribute to the understandably low morale. We again remind you of your obligations: as a member of the Air Line Pilots Association, a professional airline pilot, an employee of Air Wisconsin, and a team member of the American Eagle brand, please do your best to deliver the safest and the best service every day on each and every flight assignment.

For those of you who were unable to attend our Coffee and Conversation this past week, don’t worry, we are scheduling more dates in the near future. The next date is scheduled for Wednesday, October 12th in DCA at the Starbucks outside of Gate 35, and additional dates and locations will be communicated with you as soon as arrangements have been made. One good way to keep track of upcoming ARW events is by signing up for our MEC text service, TextCaster. You can sign up here and the process is quick, painless, and free.

Until next time, Fly Safe and Fly the Contract!

ARW MEC

Air Wisconsin Pilots:

Last week we announced that due to recent events at American Airlines’ wholly-owned regional subsidiaries and no clear indication of our futures beyond 2018, the ARW MEC was transitioning our 2018: Sunrise or Sunset campaign to 2018: SOS. It’s clear to us that events in the fee-for-departure industry, especially among the AAG subsidiaries, are moving much faster than anyone had previously anticipated.

To recap those recent events, both PSA and Envoy Air have ratified letters of agreement with dramatic pay increases and retention bonuses for their pilots, including new-hire pay rates of $38 or more. AAG’s third wholly-owned regional, Piedmont, is moving forward with similar plans.

In this message we would like to contrast that positive movement at PSA, ENV and PDT with the challenges we continue to face at ARW, looking at the facts that lay before us which may cue us in on what exactly is happening up in ATW and better allow us to make an educated decision about career expectations at ARW. We all need to take a clear-eyed view of our situation, come to our own conclusions about the outlook, and make measured decisions about our future(s). Here are a few facts that show why we are sending out an SOS.

The Declining Quality of Hotels.

There is nothing to be said here that isn’t already a painful truth for all of us, but let’s delve into some other facts concerning our hotel issues that are lesser known. We have a clear, defined contractual path for hotel approval. For as long as we have had a union contract, hotel selection requires both the Association and ARW representatives to agree on what properties are acceptable. Unfortunately, the company has recently placed us into a hotel that was not approved by either AFA or the Association — the Comfort Inn in BDL — and we had to file a grievance that remains unresolved.

In another case, we have been working to get crews moved out of the Holiday Inn GSP, where the nature of construction appears to have been downplayed or obfuscated during the hotel selection process. Upholding our hotel standards for safety, security, cleanliness and needed amenities has been an uphill battle and we urge everyone to stay active with hotel complaints so we can build a case for change(s) and potential grievances.

Air Wisconsin’s Recent Push to Hire “Instructor Management Pilots.”

A brochure at the AWAC OBAP conference booth indicates that the company is seeking to hire instructor management pilots. The MEC finds this alarming, since it appears to be a measure to attract pilots outside the boundaries of our contract and provide them with a path to build time (in some cases PIC time) in a salaried position. The starting salary offered is $45,000 per year, which is significantly higher than a new hire First Officer under our current CBA. Besides appearing to be a way around the contractual first-year pay rate, the company seems to think that they can allow these pilots to fly as Captains when their seniority wouldn’t otherwise allow such an upgrade. This is very disturbing indeed, especially those who are looking to progress their careers as a Captain (which is nearly everyone) or who are striving to become part of the Training Department.

Negotiations.

As we approach our seventh (!) year of contract negotiations, ask yourself if that lengthy delay indicates that we work for a company motivated to recognize the pilot group and invest in employees and the future of the airline.  While we have made progress in reaching agreements on many of the non-economic items of the contract, much of it is due to the fact that your negotiators have often been able to build upon the previous TA language and not start over again from scratch. It remains to be seen whether the company is really interested in a deal, or if they are going through the motions to give the perception that things are getting done. Ultimately, your leadership urges everyone not to take the passing of TAs in rapid succession as evidence that a full TA is certain to be around the corner. At the end of the day, we may get there and we may not.

So, while other carriers are making great leaps forward, AWAC appears to be standing still, with less than 18 months to go before our airline’s only contract with a mainline carrier expires.

In this climate of uncertainty, it would be very understandable for anyone to become discouraged and possibly complacent about their jobs. The fact of the matter, however, is that the one thing we all can control is the quality of our own work. No matter what transpires here at AWAC, we bear the responsibility of providing reliable and most importantly, safe service to Air Wisconsin and uphold the American Eagle image. That’s what professionalism is all about.

Fly safe and fly the contract.

In Unity,

ARW MEC

Air Wisconsin Pilots:

Four months ago your MEC launched the “2018: Sunrise or Sunset?” campaign to alert you to the challenges facing our airline and the fact that we have no new business on tap to extend the life of our carrier past February 2018. Our plan was to transition the campaign to a new, more urgent initiative called “SOS” in February 2017 if Air Wisconsin still lacked a plan with a positive

As you can see from the banner at the top of this email, our plans have changed. Like a wise flight crew expediting a departure out of an airport to avoid incoming thunderstorms, fast-moving changes to our segment of the industry have forced us to speed up our timeline. We are now officially in SOS mode at our carrier.

Why the change? Recent developments at other American Airlines feeder carriers lead us to question whether Air Wisconsin is part of American’s plan going forward.

In addition, based on their recent actions it appears our management is losing whatever interest they might once have had to stay competitive with their peers.

While AWAC appears to be standing still, other carriers are making great leaps forward thanks in part to support from AA.

One week ago on September 13, the PSA MEC announced it had reached an agreement with their company to dramatically increase compensation for their pilots. Just one day later, on September 14, the Envoy MEC announced a similar retention bonus program put forward by their company that increased new-hire pay rates by more than 46 percent.

Here’s how the new PSA and ENY deals stack up. The information for both these properties comes from pilot messages put out by the respective MECs.

PSA

Starting pay for new-hire First Officers and First Officers who have not yet completed their first year of service will significantly increase, from $24.62 per hour to PSA’s current 3rd-year blended pay rate of $38.50 per hour. Upon reaching their first anniversary, new-hire FOs will progress to the anticipated fourth-year blended rate-of-pay of $40.28 per hour. All First Officers currently in their second or third year with PSA will immediately move to the current fourth-year rate. PSA will continue to offer all new-hire pilots a $15,000 sign-on bonus, with an additional $5,000 for new-hire pilots with a CRJ-type rating.

First Officers hired after May 1, 2016 and First Officers hired under the new Agreement will be eligible to receive a $20,000 retention bonus once they mark their one-year anniversary with the company. The bonus includes a payout of $2,500 per quarter beginning on the first quarter following their anniversary date and continuing over two years, or until a First Officer is upgraded to Captain.

All Captains at PSA at the time of signing the Letter of Agreement will receive a $7,500 retention bonus to be paid out in three $2,500 installments through December 2017. If a Captain flows to American before receiving all of the retention bonus, the unpaid portion will be paid when he or she joins American.

ENVOY

First-year pay at Envoy has been temporarily increased to $37.90 an hour, which was historically ENV’s third-year FO pay. Assuming 75 hours of pay a month plus the $15,000 to $20,000 bonus, a first-year pilot at Envoy Air will make between $49,000 and $54,000.

All other FOs on property will receive compensation increases in the form of step raises, outlined below.

Current Step and Pay Rate New Step and Pay Rate Increase %
1st year FOs – $25.84/hr hour 3rd year pay – $37.90/hr 46.6% raise
2nd year FOs – $34.91/hr 4th year pay – $39.78/hr 14% raise
3rd year FOs – $37.90/hr 5th year pay – $40.79/hr 7.6% raise
4th year FOs – $39.78/hr 5th year pay – $40.79/hr 2.5% raise

 

First Officers already on fifth year pay and above will receive an additional $2,500 bonus in addition to the $5,000 already guaranteed from a December 2014 TA, approximately a 6% raise at their current pay steps.

Envoy Captains will receive $7,500 incrementally throughout the next 16 months, roughly the equivalent of a 9% raise.

PDT

It is our understanding American’s third wholly-owned subsidiary, Piedmont, will follow with a similar compensation package as PSA and Envoy MEC’s have announced.

Meanwhile, ARW is near the bottom of the list when it comes to first-year pay and bonuses.

year-1-salary-and-bonuses

All of the carriers listed below are offering bonuses for both new hires and current pilots. We show Air Wisconsin for comparison purposes only.

ffd-carrier-salary-components

One year ago when we were in the final stages of working on what ultimately became a failed tentative agreement, management’s mantra was that they couldn’t afford to pay us more because AWAC already led the industry in pilot compensation. They certainly cannot make that claim today. Under these new agreements at the wholly-owned AA carriers, new hires at Envoy and PSA will earn more than 4th-year ARW FOs the moment they step on the property. There is a hiring war going on for qualified pilots, and Air Wisconsin is standing still as carriers like Envoy, PSA and Endeavor unveil attractive new compensation packages and various paths for their pilots to move up to the mainline.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the best opportunity for survival as a fee-for-departure airline is to either be highly diversified with several mainline partners (like SkyWest and Republic) or be wholly-owned (like PSA and Envoy). As a single-partner FFD carrier with no flow agreement or career path program, we have neither or those advantages leaving our future in grave doubt.  As ALPA has said, there is not a pilot shortage but rather a pilot PAY shortage. The company cannot stand pat with its current pay scale any longer and expect to be competitive. The game has changed and with neither a clear path going forward nor market-rate pay, AWAC will fall further behind until it responds to one or both of those challenges.

Meetings have been held today with members of the ARW SPC and national SPSC committees to begin planning a new strategy to assist our members in continuing to maximize their careers in these turbulent times. In future SOS messages your MEC will provide more detail on the industry environment and ARW’s position relative to our competitors.

Until then, fly safe and fly the contract.

In Unity,

ARW MEC

 

The Summer 2016 issue of the Wiss-key is now available.  Click here to download and read it!

The July 1 PDH is out; check your email or read it here!

The ARW MEC wrapped up its summer meeting Wednesday in Appleton with a focus on strategic planning in various shapes and forms. Former ARW MEC Chair Richard Swindell, who is now an F/O at United and working for the ALPA national Strategic Preparedness and Strike Committee (SPSC) briefed the group on the status of the “2018: Sunrise or Sunset?” campaign. The MEC also heard a briefing from our pollster, Phil Comstock, on the results of our recent telephone survey. We got great data from the pilot group on your expectations for the MEC, management, and our next contract. This information is very useful to us as we continue negotiations and strategic planning.

After lunch Tuesday the MEC went into executive session and welcomed AWAC Chief Executive Christine Deister. Every MEC officer and rep questioned the CEO for almost two hours and we had a wide-ranging discussion. Ms. Deister acknowledged there is a desire by the pilots for information about the future beyond 2018 in which she hopes to be able to communicate at some point. During the meeting the company has confirmed there is no “big announcement” planned in Q3 as the pilots have been hearing during ground school visits. We appreciated the time she took to come and speak with us. Unfortunately, there is no new news to report at this point regarding the future of the airline.

After the meeting with the Company the MEC received a comprehensive brief from the Communications Committee about the new tools they are introducing to the already robust line up of communications platforms available to the MEC.  As you have seen a Twitter Handle has already been introduced (@ARWALPACOMMS) with another tool to be rolled out this summer.  Matt Chadwick, member of the FFD committee supporting resource coordinator Paul Ryder, gave a legislative affairs briefing explaining the utter importance of the MEC involvement and the pilots in different battle the Association is fighting on your behalf.  He also explained the need for FFD pilots to engage in ALPA Calls to Action (C2A’s) and donate to the PAC.  ARW is leading in C2A’s but has room for improvement in PAC participation.

The MEC wrapped up its meeting Wednesday morning and then headed to the airport for the annual ALPA headquarters picnic. Because the hangar was occupied, the airport authorities had us hold the picnic under a couple of large tents set up on the far side of the airport near the Gulfstream hangars. Although the location was across the parking lots from the AWAC offices no one seemed to mind, and we all enjoyed the beautiful weather and the chance to share burgers and brats with about 150 of our fellow employees, including the recurrent training class. This event is always one of the high points of the year for the MEC, and we’ll post some pictures on the ARW ALPA Facebook page soon.

Our next MEC meeting will be in October in Washington, DC just prior to the biennial ALPA Board of Directors meeting.

The ARW MEC held the first day of its summer meeting today in Appleton. After hearing officer reports, the MEC held balloting to elect a new slate of MEC officers. Current Chairman Chris Suhs, Vice-Chairman Thorne Saylor, and Secretary-Treasurer Graham Hoff-Downing were unanimously elected to new two-year terms which will start August 25. The MEC also re-appointed its entire slate of committee chairmen and elected Andrew Payne as the new Hotel Committee chair.

MEC officers and representatives from councils 49, 50 and 51 heard presentations from several key committees, including a detailed update on negotiations from Negotiating Chairman Bob Burgess. Currently the union and the company have TA’d 12 contract sections and exchanged proposed language on five more sections. Additional sessions with the federal mediator are scheduled for July 25-29 in Chicago and August 15-17 in Milwaukee.

The MEC also heard from Training Committee Chair Charlie Mader and Grievance Chair Ken Nesbitt, as well as a briefing by telephone from Delta Capt. Roger White on ALPA’s national strategic plan. MEC reps will help revise the plan at the national union’s Board of Directors meeting this October in Washington, DC.

The MEC meeting resumes tomorrow with briefings on polling, communications, legislative affairs, MEC strategic planning, and the status of the “2018: Sunrise or Sunset?” campaign. It concludes on Wednesday with the ALPA-sponsored picnic for headquarters employees at the Appleton Airport.

The June 15, 2016 PDH is out… it should be in your email and can also be read here.

Pilots Seek Answers About Their Airline’s Future

HERNDON, Va.—Facing questions from pilots about the future of their airline, Air Wisconsin’s ALPA leaders have launched a new campaign to encourage management to share their plans to attract new business.

The “2018: Sunrise or Sunset?” campaign acknowledges the reality that Air Wisconsin Airlines Corp. (AWAC) has no flying contracted for beyond February 2018, and has not shared any information on how it plans to continue operating past that date.

“The industry for quite some time now has been trending away from Air Wisconsin’s 50-seat business model and, although we don’t know what the future holds for the 50-seat market, the 50-seat fleet continues to be reduced by all the mainline carriers,” said Air Wisconsin ALPA Master Executive Council chairman Capt. Chris Suhs. “The employees of Air Wisconsin deserve to know what’s happening, good or bad, so we can plan our careers.”

With 69 50-seat CRJ200 aircraft and approximately 780 pilots, Air Wisconsin is the largest privately held regional airline in the United States. But it has not contracted any new flying in more than a decade since it ended its partnership with United Airlines and began a new relationship with US Airways.

With US Airways now merged with American Airlines, Air Wisconsin is operating as an American Eagle carrier. American extended AWAC’s contract extension in 2015, but that deal expires in just 22 months.

The point of “2018: Sunrise or Sunset?” is to gain information on management’s plans so that pilots can help both the airline and themselves move forward.

“We’re not talking about the company going out of business; we’re asking the company to tell us what it is doing to stay in business,” Suhs explained. “Ideally that includes new airplanes, new contracts, or a new extension from American. We’d like the opportunity to be a part of the solution.”

Founded in 1931, ALPA is the largest airline pilot union in the world and represents over 53,000 pilots at 31 U.S. and Canadian airlines. Visit the ALPA website at www.alpa.org or follow us on Twitter @WeAreALPA.

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CONTACT: ALPA Media, 703-481-4440 or Media@alpa.org

As you are now all aware, the 2018: Sunrise or Sunset? communications campaign is now underway. Your MEC launched this initiative both to request that the company communicate its future business plans with us, as well as to communicate with you our pilot membership, the uncertainty that exists here at Air Wisconsin.

Starting soon, you will have the opportunity to show your solidarity with your fellow pilots by picking up iPad cloths, pens, and other items at various times and locations in the coming months.  You will also be receiving a bag tag in the mail we are asking you to display in support of the campaign. All these items ask our management the same question: whether 2018 is the beginning or the end for our carrier once its current agreement with American Airlines expires.

Next week will be your first opportunity to pick up 2018: Sunrise Or Sunset? materials at our Coffee & Conversation events.  Former ARW MEC Chairman and ALPA National SPSC Member Richard Swindell, as well as MEC Chairman Chris Suhs and MEC ST Graham Hoff-Downing, will be on hand as well as various members of the MEC and other committees to answer questions and discuss career options outside of Air Wisconsin.

For pilots unable to meet directly with our pilot leaders or for those desiring an additional opportunity to talk about the future of Air Wisconsin, the MEC will be hosting two all-pilot conference calls in May as well.

We encourage all pilots to help us carry the message to our management group to simply share with us their concrete plan for the future.  We don’t want to hear ambiguous comments about “industry opportunities,” or nebulous remarks about being “aggressive about staying in business;” these are just platitudes designed to distract attention from the fact that –Air Wisconsin has not secured any new flying business in more than a decade.  So join your MEC and fellow pilots in the discussion, help us let the company know that we deserve honest answers about our future with this company so that we may all be in a position to look for industry opportunities and be aggressive about preserving our careers and livelihoods.

In Unity,

ARW MEC

Communications Chairman Ken Reinert gives a short update on some ongoing communictaions projects, including a call for Wiss-key articles, an update on the new ARW MEC web site, and a reminder of the Call to Action to #denyNAI.  Listen to the podcast by clicking here.

By now you have probably read the April 25th letter published by your MEC entitled 2018: Sunrise Or Sunset? This new ARW MEC campaign asks the company to let the pilot group know what Air Wisconsin’s business plans are after February 2018, when our contract with American Airlines is scheduled to expire.

Because prepping pilots for the very real possibility that Air Wisconsin will no longer exist or will rapidly draw down after February 2018 takes considerable time and tools, your MEC asked ALPA President Tim Canoll for additional resources to support ARW pilots and the 2018: Sunrise Or Sunset? campaign.  With the approval of United MEC Chairman Todd Insler, Capt. Canoll appointed United First Officer and former ARW MEC Chairman Richard Swindell  to support Captain Chris Suhs and the ARW MEC as a member of the ALPA National Strategic Preparation and Strike Committee.

Most of you will recall Richard’s long tenure here at Air Wisconsin as a pilot and ALPA volunteer who served as ARW Master Chairman prior to Chris Suhs. Many of you know Richard personally, and of course the AWAC executives in Appleton remember him as well. The MEC believes Richard’s deep understanding of our airline and our pilot group makes him an ideal support asset for our group, keeping you informed about our futures here at AWAC and options for exporting your careers to other carriers and segments of the aviation industry.

Richard has already started working with Chris and the MEC to encourage the company to simply tell us what the future holds for Air Wisconsin employees.  Sunrise or sunset, you have earned the right to know which direction this company is heading so that you may best position your career and family for stability and success.  Richard will also be assisting the MEC with pilot and pilot family communications and outreach as a part of the 2018: Sunrise Or Sunset? campaign.

Please understand that this campaign is about communicating – with you as well as the company.2018:Sunrise Or Sunset? is about expecting the company to exercise its corporate responsibility and meet its moral obligations to its employees. We deserve to know whether our employer reasonably expects to be in business beyond February 2018, and if so, how? In addition, the campaign is about preparing yourself and making decisions about your career and the ability to support your family beyond February 2018 with the facts as they are presented today.

As we said in our message on April 25 that launched this campaign and in last week’s podcast, simply wanting to be in business does not in and of itself constitute an actionable or attainable business plan.  If the odds are currently against the company continuing to stay in business beyond February 2018, then Air Wisconsin employees need to know in order to start considering options.

In the near future, you will have the opportunity to demonstrate our pilot group’s solidarity by collaborating with your MEC in asking our corporate leaders whether 2018 will be a sunrise or sunset for Air Wisconsin by displaying bag tags and other campaign paraphernalia, as well as speaking to your union leaders and fellow pilots about our collective future.  Additionally, please join your MEC in welcoming Richard Swindell back to serving and supporting the Air Wisconsin pilot group, and continue monitoring your email inbox, listening to weekly MEC podcasts, viewing the MEC website and Facebook page for updates and developments as we continue to represent you and the question of 2018: Sunrise or Sunset? is ultimately answered.

In Solidarity,

Your ARW MEC

MEC Chairman Chris Suhs talks about the MEC’s 2018: Sunrise or Sunset campaign in this week’s podcast, which you can listen to here.

Recently your ARW MEC held its first meeting of the year at ALPA HQ in Herndon, VA. One of the top items on the agenda was discussing the future of our airline. Many of you will remember the MEC’s 2014 “Do I Have a Future Here?” campaign – an effort to encourage management to share their corporate survival plan with us and, if they did not, encourage pilots to consider their career options.

Unfortunately, we find ourselves in this same position again, so we are launching a new information campaign called “2018: Sunrise or Sunset?”

With spring having officially arrived and looking forward to the rapidly approaching uptick in the summer flying season, many of you have asked how many summers we have left at Air Wisconsin. The conclusion of the jet services agreement extension allowing Air Wisconsin to continue flying with American Airlines for approximately 24 months expires in February 2018, a date that is also rapidly approaching.  Unfortunately, with no indication from management on how they plan to keep the airline running 22 months from now, we find ourselves transitioning from questioning “Do We Have a Future Here,” to “How much longer do we have?”

Although your MEC has repeatedly asked the company on your behalf, “Does Air Wisconsin want to stay in business, and if so, how will it stay in business?” the response is always the same: “Yes, we want to stay in business, but we cannot share the plan with you.”

Unfortunately, a desire to stay in business does not equate to a plan for staying in business.  Additionally, the current industry environment and mainline trend of reducing 50-seat flying and their associated dependence on regional jet aircraft is moving as rapidly away from Air Wisconsin as February 2018 is approaching us. This industry shift may well be out of the control of company managers and owners, and when the music stops, where does this leave the pilots of Air Wisconsin?  If the company cannot or will not disclose details that directly affect the lives of every employee and employee group on the property, then we must each make hard decisions and take the necessary steps now to provide for our individual futures.

With this in mind, it has become clear to your MEC that Air Wisconsin pilots face a quickly approaching reality and must begin making plans for their careers and families beyond February 2018. Absent any hard information from management that they have a plan to stay in business, merely hoping that Air Wisconsin will survive is not a viable strategy for any of us. As has often been said, fear is not a strategy – but neither is hope. We cannot force the company to make a corporate plan, but we definitely can encourage our members to execute personal career plans. This is why we are launching our “2018: Sunrise or Sunset?” campaign.

Regardless of what management’s plan or lack of a plan is, ALPA stands ready to reasonably participate and assist in a solution. Moreover, ALPA is prepared to work jointly with the company to develop a letter of agreement ensuring that pilots remain engaged and supporting the operation until the last plane has landed and Air Wisconsin Airline Corporation has itself flown west.  But again, we cannot do this without the company meeting its reasonable and fair obligation to its employees to provide accurate and timely information. We cannot ignore the fact that as of today our airline has no one to fly for past February 2018. We all must face facts and act accordingly, however unpleasant those facts may be.

Although it remains unclear whether the sun may be setting on Air Wisconsin, the sun is finally rising again on the North American airline industry overall, and career opportunities exist for pilots and other aviation professionals who wish to transport their valuable skill set to those companies with a future to offer.  None of us want to see our carrier’s long legacy as well as the last air carrier based in Wisconsin to come to an end, but we can no longer ignore or hope against these odds absent some kind of plan from the company.

As we continue closing in on the end of the flying contract with American Airlines, ALPA stands ready to work with the Association of Flight Attendants and International Aerospace Machinists to provide as much information and support as possible to prepare you for the future and enable good decision-making. Whether the Air Wisconsin leadership will reciprocate and provide reliable data allowing us to plan for our lives past 2018 is unknown. Whether we face Sunrise or Sunset, we want you to be ready, we will keep trying to get necessary information, and we will keep you informed.

In Solidarity,

Your ARW MEC

A new X-RAY has been published and sent by email, and will be available on the web archive shortly.  It is a summary of the Negotiating Committee’s meeting with the company in SAT last month, and the first time the two have met since the rejected TA.

The April 1, 2016 Pay Day Hotline has beed added to the web page archive.

In this issue: Negotiations Update; Resignations and Sick Calls; Event Review Safety Program; ATC Reporting and FAA Letters of Investigation; Rest Rules 117.25: how to figure out pilot’s rest; ALPA District Advocate: My Story; Upcoming issue of the Wiss-key; Upcoming Dates

The March 15, 2016 Pay Day Hotline has beed added to the web page archive.

In this issue: URGENT – BENEFITS AUDIT DUE MARCH 22; ARW MEC Post-Meeting Update; Negotiating Committee Chairman Election; Committee Activity for February 2016; A Message to All Future Volunteers; PDH Extra: Volunteer of the Quarter – CA Dave Wilcox; Medical Reimbursement Value Increases; AWAC Departure Checklist; February 2016 Resignations; Upcoming Dates.

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URGENT – PLEASE READ!! 

You may have recently received a letter from an independent audit company, on behalf of the Air Wisconsin Benefits Department, requesting information on the dependents you claim for medical and dental insurance. This letter from Willis Towers Watson should have included a self-addressed stamped envelope to submit documentation proving your dependent’s eligibility in the medical and dental plans.

It is imperative that you follow the instructions carefully, as outlined in the letter, and return the information and documentation as instructed.  If you do not, there is a very real risk that your spouse and children will be dropped from the Air Wisconsin insurance plans.  Because the company has only distributed this important request via the USPS, your ARW MEC is concerned that some pilots may be unaware of the letter, or may have mistakenly discarded it as junk mail.  If you have not seen this letter, or have discarded or otherwise misplaced it, please call the Air Wisconsin Benefits Department to determine the best course of action to meet the requirements of the audit.

YOU MUST RESPOND TO THE AUDIT LETTER BY MARCH 22 OR YOU RUN THE RISK OF YOUR SPOUSE/PARTNER AND/OR CHILDREN LOSING THEIR HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGE.

Some of you may find it will take time tracking down documentation such as birth certificates, naturalization documents, marriage certificates, etc., especially if you are required to obtain this documentation from a country outside the United States.  If you will not be able to meet, or feel you’ll struggle to meet, the March 22 deadline demanded by AWAC to provide this documentation it is imperative that you immediately contact the Air Wisconsin Benefits Department to work out an alternate plan.

Due to the adverse consequences of not replying, ALPA recommends that you submit whatever documentation you have by the March 22 deadline even if it is not fully compliant, and then follow up with the Air Wisconsin Benefits Department to discuss your incomplete documentation as well as options to make sure that your dependents are not dropped from your insurance plan while you are waiting to complete the document request.

If you are unable to meet the deadline, have a question as to whether you will meet the deadline, or have any other questions regarding the audit, please contact these individuals at the Air Wisconsin Benefits Department.

Stan Petersen Gauthier
920-749-4271
Stan.Petersen-Gauthier@airwis.com
Gregg Garvey
920-749-7519
Gregg.Garvey@airwis.com
Sarah Peters
920-749-7589
Sarah.Peters@airwis.com

 

The MEC does not take issue with the need for a benefits audit, and we support the company’s efforts. Our concern is how this vital information was distributed to the pilot group and the potential it raises for family members to be mistakenly removed from group health insurance coverage.

–Your Air Wisconsin MEC Retirement & Insurance Committee

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