Alaska Airlines presented its final proposal to baggage handlers late Thursday night, setting the stage for a vote that could decide the...
Alaska Airlines presented its final proposal to baggage handlers late Thursday night, setting the stage for a vote that could decide the fate of about 500 union workers in Seattle.
The airline issued a statement late yesterday telling employees “there will be no further negotiations prior to the subcontracting decision.”
Alaska has said it will lay off and replace the unionized baggage handlers if it can’t reach a new contract. An outsourcing agreement it reached with Menzies Aviation Group earlier this year would save the airline more than $13 million a year if implemented, the company has said.
The airline already outsources baggage handling at all the airports it serves except Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and those in Alaska. About 1,095 baggage handlers would work under any new contract.
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Union leader Bobby De Pace said the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) plans to recommend that members vote against the offer. “This is such a bad proposal,” he said.
Members are expected to vote on the offer by May 6, unless the union’s lawyers find problems with the proposal, De Pace said.
Some workers would face pay cuts as high as 35 percent, he said.
The airline said that only the highest-paid employees would take any pay cuts.
As outlined by the airline, the proposed contract would offer voluntary severance packages to employees in the top five steps of the baggage handlers’ pay scale.
The proposal calls for reducing double-time pay, eliminating triple-time pay and getting rid of one paid holiday. It also makes work-rule changes intended to increase productivity, such as allowing management employees to help in front-line operations.
Workers’ payments for health insurance also would be increased.
The proposal includes a four-year commitment that current baggage handlers won’t be furloughed “as a direct result of subcontracting” and ramp employees in Seattle and Alaska won’t be contracted out.
If members do not vote or if they reject the proposal, Alaska said a federal mediator has called on negotiations to resume in late summer “regardless of any decision on the Seattle ramp function.”
Melissa Allison: 206-464-3312 or firstname.lastname@example.org