Alaska Airline Pilots Vote To Accept New Contract, Pay Increases

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After years of pay cuts in an industry that's been in a tailspin ever since 9/11, pilots at Alaska Airlines have voted to accept a new contract that offers pay increases.

The pilots' union, the Air Line Pilots Association, have voted to approve a new four-year contract that includes better pay, more retirement options with protected pension plans, and work rules that increase flexibility in flight assignments.

Of the 95 percent of the company's pilots who voted, 84 percent voted for the agreement, which becomes retroactive to April 1st.

The pension plan agreement accepted by pilots will not be available to new pilots hired after ratification of the contract. Instead, new pilots will be offered participation in a separate 401(k) program.

The new contract also offers the company's 1,455 pilots participation in the same performance incentive program as the airline's non-union employees, executives, dispatchers and flight attendants. Pilots will also share in health care costs.

"This pilot group, and pilots across our industry, have watched our pay, benefits, job security and quality of life erode since 9/11," said Capt. Bill Shivers, chairman of the Alaska Master Executive Council. "While this contract doesn't restore everything, it does provide increases in pay and improvements in our work schedule and retirement flexibility."

"We appreciate the hard work by everyone involved in helping us achieve this multi-year agreement, said Alaska Airlines Presdient Brad Tilden. "it provides the right foundation for our pilots and airline to succeed long term. I'd like to thank our pilots for maintaining their focus on safety and providing great customer service throughout a long negotiation process."

ALPA and Alaska Airlines began contract negotiations in January 2007 and reached a tentative agreement last month. The pilots' last contract, awarded by an arbitrator in May 2005, cut pilot pay by 21 percent to 35 percent.

ALPA represents nearly 54,000 pilots at 36 airlines in the U.S. and Canada, among them the 1,455 pilots of Alaska Airlines, including 60 pilots currently on furlough.

Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air, subsidiaries of Alaska Air Group ( NYSE: ALK), together serve more than 90 cities in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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