The pilot leadership of United Express affiliate Air Wisconsin last month rejected a proffer of arbitration by the National Mediation Board, triggering the mandatory 30-day countdown to a potential strike at 12:01 a.m. on August 12. In June 96.6 percent of Air Wisconsin’s pilots, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, authorized union leadership to call a strike if necessary.
Air Wisconsin pilots have been working under an amended agreement to a contract that dates to 1994, and have been trying unsuccessfully to negotiate a new contract with management for the past two years. After the 30-day cooling-off period expires, the pilots could strike. ALPA said it expects contract talks to resume during the cooling-off period in a last-ditch effort to reach a tentative agreement.
Under the current deal, an amendment to which Air Wisconsin’s pilots signed in 1998, fifth-year BAe 146 captains earn an average of $77,000 per year, fifth-year CRJ captains make roughly $65,000 and fifth-year Dornier 328 captains earn about $49,000. In addition to work-rule improvements, most of which the sides have already agreed upon with the help of a federal mediator, ALPA has pushed for a 25-percent increase in salaries.