Mesaba pilots ratify new contract

After 930 days of negotiations, including a 42-hour non-stop bargaining session last month, Mesaba Airlines pilots ratified their new contract by a 66 percent margin and signed the deal Friday afternoon.
Contract improvements in job security, wages, retirement, and work rules were the top issues for the pilot group, which is represented by the Air Line Pilots Association International.
Virtually every section of the contract was enhanced, according to union officials.
“Despite a tough environment in the airline industry, pilots have achieved a contract that secures their jobs and provides overdue increases to their compensation and retirement,” said Capt. Tom Wychor, chairman of the Mesaba unit of ALPA.
Pilots will see pay increases effective Jan. 31 that range from five-27 percent. Entry level pilots who had been paid only $17,000 (U.S.) will jump to $21,600 (U.S.)
In addition, the pilots will get annual longevity increases and additional pay bumps that average three percent per year during the five-year contract.
Overall, wages will increase by 37 percent on average to the end of the contract.
A strike deadline had been set at 11:01 p.m. on Jan. 9. With negotiations advancing well, the pilots agreed to temporarily extend the strike deadline.
Mesaba was forced to temporarily suspend flights during this period. Eight flights at the Falls International Airport were cancelled on Jan. 9 and 10, but resumed Jan. 11.
Mesaba runs about 600 flights a day, serving 111 cities in 20 states and Canada, and is the exclusive carrier for some 20 community airports, including International Falls.
The airline averages three flights a day out of the Falls in the winter and seven a day in the summer. Some 20,000 passengers use the airport every year, about 25 percent of whom are Canadian.