Pilots unfazed by Sun Country owner’s downsizing threat

Sun County pilots staged informational picketing last month at MSP's Terminal 2.

Sun County pilots staged informational picketing last month at MSP’s Terminal 2.

Sun Country pilots aren’t budging from the stance that they deserve better pay, not even after threats from their boss that the airline could be downsizing.

Pilots, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, have been in negotiations with Sun Country since their contract became amendable in April 2010. The two sides have been in federal mediation since 2012, and they  recently exchanged initial proposals for wages and benefits.

But Sun Country owner Marty Davis stepped outside those sessions this week with an email to union leaders suggesting “he has begun the process of downsizing the airline,” Capt. Brian Roseen, Chairman of ALPA‘s Sun Country Master Executive Council, said in a media release.

Pilots have seen no evidence of the Minnesota-based airline’s operations winding down. “We are disappointed Mr. Davis has chosen to respond to us with the threat of a shutdown even as the Association is prepared to present its counter-proposal,” Roseen said.

According to ALPA, Davis’ email also made clear the airline’s initial economic offer, submitted last month, was its last, best and final offer. That proposal would keep Sun Country pilots’ wages, currently the lowest among 737 scheduled-service pilots in the U.S., near the bottom of the industry.

Pilots called the proposal unacceptable during informational picketing last month outside Terminal 2 at Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport, and they reiterated their commitment to achieving industry-average pay.

Here’s Capt. Roseen’s statement in full, released yesterday:

The Sun Country Master Executive Council (SCA MEC) of the Air Line Pilots Association, International, the collective bargaining representative of SCA pilots, has received media inquiries related to reports about a communication from SCA management threatening a wind down of Sun Country Airlines.

Yesterday, the SCA MEC received an e-mail from Mr. Marty Davis, Chairman and owner of Sun Country.  Mr. Davis’ e-mail asserts that after five years of negotiations, the first comprehensive economic proposal presented by the company is also its ‘last, best and final’ proposal.  In essence, it’s a take-it or leave-it offer. He claims that he has begun the process of downsizing the airline, although we have seen no evidence of this. In the interest of full disclosure to our members, we forwarded Mr. Davis’ communication to the pilot group last night.

Mediation required under the provisions of the Railway Labor Act is now being conducted by the National Mediation Board in Washington, DC. The Association has made clear its willingness to meet anytime and anywhere to continue mediation.  The NMB has tentatively set May 27-29 in Washington, DC as the scheduled next date for meetings.  ALPA believes the Company was unwilling to meet sooner.  At that meeting, ALPA will provide a counter-proposal to the Company’s offer that seeks to narrow the remaining gaps between the parties’ positions.

We are disappointed Mr. Davis has chosen to respond to us with the threat of a shutdown even as the Association is prepared to present its counter-proposal. We appreciate the NMB’s tireless efforts to conduct mediation, and reiterate that our pilots are determined to rise above their current status as the lowest-paid B-737 scheduled service pilots in the country.

Sun Country pilots intend to show up for work tomorrow and continue to do our jobs the way we always have — safely, professionally and courteously.  The Association looks forward to opportunities later this month to continue our good-faith efforts to reach a comprehensive agreement that reflects established pay and benefit patterns, and trusts that Company executives will participate with the same intention.

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