Arbitrator Rules against Midwest Airlines Pilots

 - January 22, 2009, 10:36 AM

A labor arbitrator rejected a grievance filed by the ALPA-represented pilots of Midwest Airlines challenging the Milwaukee-based carrier’s decision to replace mainline Boeing 717 service with 12 Embraer E170s operated by Indianapolis-based Republic Airways. The first of the 76-seat Embraer jets, at one time used to serve Republic’s now dissolved Frontier Express network, began flying as Midwest Connect on October 1. By November 15 the last of the dozen Embraer airplanes entered service, operated “temporarily” by Teamsters-represented Republic pilots. Under a renegotiated lease deal with Boeing Capital, Midwest Airlines returned 16 of its 717s this fall.
As part of the arrangement between the two airlines, Republic flight crew would fly the 12 E170s as Midwest Connect only until Midwest Airlines’ Boeing 717 crews received training on the Brazilian equipment. Plans called for Republic to transfer the airplanes’ operating certificate to Midwest, which would lease the airplanes from Republic. However, that process could take up to a year, according to Midwest, and hinge on severe pay concessions from the displaced 717 crewmembers, who characterize management’s tactics as underhanded.
“Midwest pilots have waited eight-and-a-half years to address our contractual concerns and needs through the negotiations process,” said Capt. Jay Schnedorf, chairman of the Midwest pilots’ Master Executive Council (MEC). “If management truly intended to negotiate with us in good faith, it should have brought the proposal to operate Embraer aircraft to the bargaining table. Instead, management is holding our jobs hostage in exchange for outrageous and unfair concessions.”  
 Midwest Airlines’ flight attendants have also filed a grievance and await word from the arbitrator assigned to their case.  
Channels: Air Transport and Cargo; Regionals