A third group of unionized workers at Alaska Airlines has rejected a tentative contract agreement negotiated by union leaders and the company...

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A third group of unionized workers at Alaska Airlines has rejected a tentative contract agreement negotiated by union leaders and the company.

The Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA) said yesterday that 64 percent of members who voted turned down the tentative four-year contract for the airline’s roughly 650 mechanics.

That vote follows the rejection last week by Alaska’s flight attendants of a tentative contract their union recommended, and an overwhelming rejection by pilots earlier this month of a contract that would have replaced an arbitrator’s award.

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It is unclear why the mechanics voted down their tentative agreement.

“We have to poll members to find out what the major sticking points were,” said Louie Key, an Alaska aircraft mechanic and director of AMFA’s western region. The union has a policy of not recommending members vote for or against such agreements.

The new contract would have included pay increases, which the mechanics have not had since December 2002, when an arbitrator’s award gave them a 4 to 5 percent pay raise but stipulated a two-year pay freeze.

Key said he suspects the mechanics were unhappy that the proposed contract did not make the new pay raises retroactive to December 2003, and that it included higher health-insurance premiums.

Alaska CEO Bill Ayer said in a written statement that the airline had hoped for a different outcome, adding: “We will be heading back to the negotiating table.”

In addition to covering Alaska’s mechanics, the contract also would apply to unionized workers who clean the airline’s jets, if it hires any such employees. That is doubtful in the near term, since Alaska outsourced those jobs last fall, letting go its 269 unionized cleaners and fleet-service employees.

Alaska last fall also closed its heavy-maintenance base in Oakland, laying off about 340 mechanics covered by the AMFA contract. Another 42 ground-support equipment-maintenance employees who were part of the contract were let go in Seattle and the state of Alaska.

Melissa Allison: 206-464-3312 or mallison@seattletimes.com