Recently there have been articles popping up all over the internet about the miserable wages that regional airline pilots are paid. All these years after Colgan 3407 crashed in Buffalo, the plight of the regional pilots is making news.
Now it's becoming an issue because the airlines who are recording record profits are whining about having to close bases (Cleveland, United) because their "partners" i.e. the regional airlines are having a "pilot shortage".
Pilot shortage? Nope, follow me below the orange wake turbulence to learn more...
Let me set this straight right now, there is no "pilot shortage", there is a shortage of pilots willing to work for the crappy starting wages that regionals pay. Wages that start at a whopping $16 an hour. I know, $16 (or $22) an hour sounds awesome for a guy starting out in the business, but wait... that $16 (or whatever the wage is) is only paid for time when the door is closed, and the parking brake is released. Preflights/postflights, paperwork, maintenance delays, boarding delays and the like are all unpaid time for us. We can work a maximum of 100 hours in a month (and 1000 hours in a year), and are paid between 75 and 90 hours per month, plus a small per diem of about $1.40/hour (depends on the airline) when we are away from our base. When I say work, I mean only our time when the door is closed. Reserve, where we have to be available is not "paid" unless we're on ready reserve where we're required to be available on 15 minute notice, and then at only 50% (i.e. an 8 hour shift is paid at four hours).
So what am I asking for? Help signing a petition to have the White House take up the cause of repeal or at least radical modification of the law that governs the airlines. It's called the "Railway Labor Act" (RLA) and governs labor relations between the pilots and management. It's very, very management-centric. Under the RLA we don't get new contracts, but rather our old contracts become "amendable". There is no impetus for management to ever amend a contract, because work actions are forbidden under the RLA, we can't strike, we can't have a sick-out, we can't even joke about it. The RLA also makes the National Mediation Board (NMB) the final arbiter on whether, even after a strike vote is taken, we are allowed to strike. The pilot group at Republic Airlines, a regional carrier that has contracts with United, American/US Air, and Delta has been "negotiating" for almost 10 years for a new Tentative Agreement (TA) and at one point had a strike vote where literally 99% of their membership voted to strike. The NMB has not yet ruled on releasing them to strike and it's been well over a year since they voted. Because the RLA lets management control everything.
Simply, the RLA needs to go. Now. Pilots deserve to have good career where they are allowed to be partners in their airline's success not indentured servants who are utterly controlled by management. Almost every pilot in the scheduled airlines is represented by either ALPA (the Airline Pilots Association) or another labor group that deals with Pilots. All the unions would love to be able to negotiate for their members without the onus of the RLA over their heads.
Please take a moment and help a Kossack out, and sign the petition. There are over 900,000 of us now, all it would take would be 12% or so to get this moving and help get rid of legislation that has out-lived it's usefulness (if there ever was any).