Friday, June 25, 2010

Career in Aviation

Imagine landing your dream job. A job you've wanted all your life. The first day of work you get handed this huge book that spells out a formal agreement between you and your new employer.  A formal contract. You start at the bottom of course but you know one day things will get better.

You read through the book and start to question things. "Is it really necessary to have such explicit work rules ? Can things really get to the point where I have to reference this book?"

Years go by and your pay and quality of life go up. A kid or two is born and your life is budgeted around your pay at your dream job. Life is good.

Management begins to blatantly violate the contract. The Union is filing grievances almost daily against management. A new contract negotiation period is rapidly approaching. Negotiations start as expected: Management wants more work with the same or less pay, the Union wants the work dictated in the contract with the same or, more likely, better pay.

Negotiations stall. The contract expires. You're not sure, but it looks like Management is using the old contract to keep the furnace in their ivory towers warm. Your dream job isn't so dreamy anymore.

Now in most professions you could leave with your experience....say 8 years...and go to a new job in the same industry and start out with the pay equal to your experience. An accountant with 8 years experience can get a new gig and get 8 year pay. Not so with the airlines.

Over the last month or so I've had friends ask why flight crews strike? Why not just go to a new airline? Well it's because they would have to start all over again. Flight crews would have to start back over at year one pay and year one seniority. I believe this is true for all non-management airline positions. Airline CEO's and Analyst of course have golden parachutes that allow them to leave Air Express and go over to Steel Air and get the same...or better pay.

Employees at major airlines have been there for 20+ years. Starting over isn't an option. They have to fight for their jobs.

True we all know this going into it, but it doesn't make it right.


  1. But isn't the whole restarting from the bottom thing dictated by the Union contract? If the same union reps at two different airlines why isn't seniority transferable?

  2. Starting from the bottom is in un contract. I know of no US Airline that allows a new hire to be ahead of any pilot already on the seniority list. Todd the pilot could be with Midwest Airlines (formally represented by ALPA) for 25 years, be furloughed/quit and get hired by Comair (also represented by ALPA) and be junior to a pilot hired just the day prior. This system is what keeps pilots from hopping from carrier to carrier. There's been talk of a national seniority list.....but it's never got much traction.


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