COMAIR PILOTS union to submit mediated settlement proposal for vote

Saturday, May 5th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

CINCINNATI (AP) _ Federal mediators said Friday they have proposed a settlement to regional carrier Comair and its pilots, who have been striking since March 26.

``The parties are considering the settlement offer,'' National Mediation Board spokesman Dan Rainey said.

Representatives striking Comair pilots said late Friday they would submit the proposed contract settlement to union members for a vote but are not endorsing the proposal.

The mediation board's proposal is not the result of a negotiated agreement, said J.C. Lawson, chairman of the Comair pilots' unit of the Air Line Pilots Association.

``As such, this proposal is not endorsed by the pilots' governing body,'' he said.

Comair spokesman Nick Miller would not discuss the status of the contract negotiations, which broke up Thursday after nine straight days.

Meanwhile, American Airlines said two days of mediated talks with its flight attendants ended without accord. The Association of Professional Flight Attendants, which represents 23,000 American attendants, has asked to be released from mediation without success.

American said in a statement it was disappointed that the talks did not result in a tentative agreement, and that it would ``continue to explore alternatives for narrowing the few remaining open issues until the talks resume.''

No new talks have been scheduled.

The flight attendants have been working without a new contract for more than two years.

At Delta Air Lines, leaders of the pilots union have approved a new contract agreement and will put it to the rank-and-file for a vote beginning May 22. The vote by the 9,800 Delta pilots will last through June 20.

The walkout by Comair's 1,350 pilots is costing owner Delta Air Lines $3 million to $4 million a day in lost revenue. The company won't disclose actual losses.

Leaders with Comair's Air Line Pilots Association were working in Cincinnati on Friday, spokesman Paul Lackie said.

``More information will come out at the end of that meeting,'' which could last several days, Lackie said.

The mediation board has asked Comair and its pilots not to publicly comment on the negotiations.

Since the strike began, Comair has announced layoffs of 2,000 of its 4,000 nonstriking employees, has sold off several of its older aircraft, and has urged other airlines to recruit graduates from its pilot training school in Sanford, Fla.

The pilots and Comair have been negotiating since June 1998. The pilots are seeking higher pay, company-paid retirement, more rest between shifts, and pay for non-flying hours when they are on duty. Comair has said it cannot afford to pay pilots at the same scale as major airlines that fly bigger jets.