Fellow Delta Pilots,
Last week, the Delta MEC met in special session to receive an update on negotiations, discuss scope and provide the Negotiating Committee with direction on this important subject. I want to give you a brief overview of our actions and what’s on tap as we head into the fall.
Update on Negotiations
Regarding negotiations in general, ALPA has been aggressively meeting with the Company throughout the summer. As we’ve reported in our weekly updates, the Negotiating Committee has come to agreement with the Company (on a couple sections) of the PWA that can be categorized as lower cost items. While the tone of talks has been productive and cordial, the Company has deferred several issues that are not high-cost but are high priority items to the Delta pilots, such as deadheading. We have clear guidance from the pilot group about the improvements you’d like us to achieve on Deadhead and other sections of the PWA.
In the meantime, we understand your desire for more details on negotiations as we march closer to our December 31 amendable date. Therefore, we’re producing a new “Road to the TA” series about the open sections of the contract. Our first publication will discuss Section 8 – Deadhead. We’ll review our 2019 opening position, our peers’ contractual language, and what is considered “best in class.” Of course, you’ll continue to receive information directly from the Negotiating Committee via “Negotiators’ Notepads.”
ALPA is seeking changes to the PWA’s scope provisions to further protect our current flying and ensure Delta pilots see an equitable share of growth generated by Joint Ventures and international partners. At the recent Special MEC Meeting, your elected representatives received detailed briefings from the Negotiating and Scope Compliance & Analysis committees, and staff from ALPA’s legal, representation, and economic and financial analysis team. We’ve done our homework on this critical issue. We understand the playing field and where Delta’s international flying stands today versus where Delta and its international partners stood historically. With all this in mind, the MEC provided the Negotiators with clear direction to engage in talks on scope with the Company, which will continue in the coming weeks.
The Company’s lack of compliance with our current Section 1 provisions is unacceptable. We are still awaiting arbitrators’ rulings on the Korean and Aeroméxico grievances. We are willing to approach scope discussions as partners and with a problem-solving mindset but will not compromise on the equitable growth promises we’ve heard repeatedly from management. Our careers depend on it.
The MEC also discussed the Blue Skies Joint Venture during the MEC meeting. The Blue Skies effort is a consolidation of the current Transatlantic and Virgin Atlantic JVs in that it establishes a single combined JV for Delta, Air France, KLM and Virgin Atlantic while at the same time ending the venture with Alitalia, for now. While there are risks for the Delta pilots in this commercial agreement, there is also a potential opportunity for ALPA to negotiate contractual commitments to ensure that Delta’s JV operations grow equitably with those of its JV partners. The Delta MEC will be providing a great deal more information in the weeks to come on the history of our unrealized growth and what it will take for us to truly have equal growth compared to our international partners.
We are currently in the thick of the busy summer season. I am aware of the stresses being put on everyone as we work through the Company’s 1% cost containment cap. This cap, combined with an increase of 3% in block hours while reducing pilot headcount by 1.5%, has placed significant pressure on our crews. This can be seen in the record-breaking rate of Green Slips issued in July. Recently, Delta sent employees a flyer about how Delta Health Direct can help if you’re having trouble sleeping. The Company can help ensure pilots have restful sleep when we’re flying by using RCC credit to build trips with smart rest periods instead of building them with fatigue-inducing deadheads before and after all-nighters. Trips should also be built to reduce the frequent flip-flopping of our body clocks. Further, Flight Operations needs to hire pilots at a rate that keeps up with retirements. So far this year, 302 pilots have retired yet only 267 have been hired. We are working too much with too little to meet the demands required to run the operation.
We are fighting hard both in daily operations through the Scheduling Committee as well as through contract negotiations to alleviate the pressures caused by the often-short-sighted decisions coming from senior members of management unfamiliar with line operations. With the stressful tempo and fatigue-inducing rotations, keep your head on a swivel and do not allow anyone to pressure you into a questionable situation in which safety or Federal Aviation Regulations could be compromised. The MEC will always have your back if you are questioned after making a decision in the name of safety or in the name of contract enforcement.
ALPA and Management Relations
Recently, there have been several issues involving inappropriate behavior from Delta management toward some MEC representatives and committee members. We’ve addressed our concerns with Flight Ops, and I believe these events are outliers. However, we must still take them very seriously. The Rules of the Road are clear on how we should treat each other. Contract negotiations are always a stressful time for both parties, and it’s not uncommon for things to be said on either side that may be regretted later. It should be everyone’s desire to take a deep breath when these moments occur and remember that, in the end, we’re all on the same team and want a thriving company and successful contract.
In closing, I want to reiterate the news continues to be good for our Company and the Delta pilots. Delta is enjoying an enormously profitable summer. In fact, Wall Street has raised its pre-tax forecast for the remainder of 2019 and 2020. Polling indicates pilot unity is increasing as are your expectations for a timely, industry-leading agreement. We’ll continue to keep you updated on our progress and will be providing you with opportunities to show your unity in the coming weeks.