Delta Pilots take another pay cut |

Delta Pilots take another pay cut

Stuck between a rock and unemployment, Delta pilots ratified an agreement with their airline that will decrease salaries by an additional14 percent.

The deal, which replaces an agreement made in December, also includes assurances the union won’t fight any company effort to terminate the pilots’ pension.

The vote first went to the Air Line Pilots’ Association, who represented the pilots in the matter. Representatives of the Delta Master Executive Council, the union’s governing body, approved the agreement last month and passed it to the pilots for a membership vote, with a recommendation to support the deal.

Nearly all eligible pilots cast ballots, 61 percent of which voted in favor of the new contract. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court has now approved the agreement. The 14 percent pay cut comes after a 32.5 percent pay cut that has already taken effect.

Capt. Ed Thiel, Chairman of Council 81 of the ALPA, represents 600 local Delta pilots, 170 of which reside in Park City. Thiel said the pilots also took cuts across the board in benefits, which include medical, vacation, sick leave, disability and survivorship.

"Given the limited power of labor in bankruptcy, we were forced to compromise on many issues," Thiel said. "In this latest deal, we gave up another $280 million a year, which included a 14 percent pay cut. A number of pilots, especially the younger ones, are leaving for other careers."

But Thiel said it could have been worse. With US Air, United and Northwest Airlines joining Delta in bankruptcy, other companies are feeling the pinch as well.

"It could’ve been worse," he said. "Compared to other airlines and bankruptcies we did alright."

"The next goal is to get out of bankruptcy in early to mid 2007," Thiel said. "The next move as far as pilots are concerned, is we expect our retirement plan to be terminated. They’re not able to fund it in the financial condition that they’re in."

"This agreement provides a framework for Delta to successfully reorganize and emerge from bankruptcy ready to win in today’s competitive marketplace," Delta MEC Chairman, Capt. Lee Moak, said. "The new contract also provides real returns and job security for the unprecedented recent sacrifices made by the Delta pilots in support of our great company. We look forward to Delta’s successful emergence from bankruptcy and together with all Delta employees, returning our airline to success."

In the May traffic report, Delta reported a 9.7 percent decrease in system traffic when compared to May 2005.

Delta, the nation’s third largest airline, has been in bankruptcy protection since September.

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