Unions and Pay

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ppragman

FLIPY FLAPS!
Well, after reading how quickly the Go-Jet thread turned into a troll fest, I wanted to try to have a civilized discussion about the merits of unions in aviation. First, let it be known that I'm pro-union. I wish my company had a union, but we'd have to be a lot bigger for it to really matter.

There is one thing, despite the myriad good reasons for unions, which really really bothers me, and if someone with more experience in the matter (PCL here's your que) could enlighten me a little I'd be much obliged. Why is it that FOs at even good union companies get paid so little? I was looking at the TransStates page on APC, and you only make $25/hr after your off probation pay. What's with that? I know apprentice electricians in IBEW who are making $35/hr their first year, and getting a lot more hours, and they're not responsible for other people's lives. This just doesn't make sense to me.

Even Horizon, which is really good pay in a regional sense, only pays $32/hr for an FO after a year in the Dash (Though CRJ700 guys do pretty well, they make $42/hr). Irregardless, this is equates to about $40k per year or so at the guarantee at CRJ700 pay. For most companies however, there is straight up poverty pay for the first couple of years, and your QoL sucks.

Balance this with the fact that if you wait 7-8 more months (if you're a 500TT guy instructing or something and need to get to 1200) you can go to work for a non-union company like Flight Express, or AirNet (before they stopped hiring) and make good wages and fly PIC. Further, there are companies out there like Martinaire, and a few others that will put you right into the left seat of a Caravan or something turbine at 1200TT. Down the road (3000-5000TT) if you want to go into something bigger you have 2 choices, you can take a pretty hard pay cut by going to a union company, or you can go to a place like Virgin America (non union) or some other and make decent money in the right seat and still have pretty decent benes.

If a guy working freight or charter or something, decided he wanted to go airline, chances are the guy would have to take a $20,000 pay cut or so to do it. If someone wanted to go fly the eskimo jet (Alaska Airlines) and assuming he was qualified and making $55/hr at a mom and pop 135 flying 1000hrs per year he would take a $20/hr pay cut to do so. Why is this the case?
 

Seggy

Well-Known Member
A union has a lot more to do than just pay.

A union is having a lawyer on retainer when/if you screw something up. The companies have lawyers on retainers, so should we as pilots.

Also first year pay is low because you are on probation. You are the new guy on the block and it is up to you to make sure you keep your nose clean, live up to the company standards, and are the right fit.
 

jtrain609

Uniting the black vote.
You'll make WAY more in the long run at a regional.

If I had stayed at Amflight I would have realistically topped out at around $45,000 a year as a Metro driver (unless I wanted to move to Texas and drive an EMB-120 between Midland and Dallas every night). At Express I could have made that much cash second year with a line and a little work, and I had the potential to make six figures as a captain with a few years in. That's huge, in my mind.

Now somebody will chime in with the; "Get out of the regionals as quick as you possibly can!" line. That's a great line, but it doesn't do anybody any good when there's no movement, and the line is probably coming from a mainline guy who doesn't really understand the complexities of making those moves up the food chain. It's easy to say, but a lot harder to get a mainline flying job.

Now why this is all happening? Dunno, but there's a piece of the puzzle.
 

Seggy

Well-Known Member
Now somebody will chime in with the; "Get out of the regionals as quick as you possibly can!" line. That's a great line, but it doesn't do anybody any good when there's no movement, and the line is probably coming from a mainline guy who doesn't really understand the complexities of making those moves up the food chain. It's easy to say, but a lot harder to get a mainline flying job.
You should get out of the regionals as quickly as possible. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.

With that said, it is a lot easier said than done.
 

esa17

Well-Known Member
One of my problems with unions is quite simple:

I know plenty of people who I consider to be much less skilled at being a pilot than I am. Why then, should I hope to be paid just the same as someone who isn't as good at their job as I am? I have a serious problem with seniority over merit based pay.


If I'm better than John Smith then I demand to be compensated as such. I don't care that he has been there three years longer than I and did just enough to get by.
 

SpiraMirabilis

Possible Subversive
One of my problems with unions is quite simple:

I know plenty of people who I consider to be much less skilled at being a pilot than I am. Why then, should I hope to be paid just the same as someone who isn't as good at their job as I am? I have a serious problem with seniority over merit based pay.


If I'm better than John Smith then I demand to be compensated as such. I don't care that he has been there three years longer than I and did just enough to get by.
So you think you're a better pilot. Hmm. How do you define better? Do you get the passengers there faster? Does he break the airplane and you don't? I need to know the metrics here.

(By the way, unless he or she is a complete cabbage head there is hardly any chance you are more skilled flying the same plane and same route than someone who has been doing it for 3 years longer than you, regardless of how good a pilot you are.)
 

BajtheJino

I'm looking at you.
Another good thing about the union is if you come to work drunk or test positive for cocaine you'll get to keep your job.
 

Trip7

Well-Known Member
You should get out of the regionals as quickly as possible. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.

With that said, it is a lot easier said than done.
Not necessarily. Worst case scenario would be you leave your close to 6 figures regional captain job, go to a major and get furloughed. Like most pilots during the last downturn, you're without a job for 3-5 years whereas you would have been making close to or 100k plus at a regional. Opportunity cost of 300k-500k.

But in the long run you'll make it up at a major depending on your age. But it those couple years of furlough must suck horribly. Especially if you have a family.

Now if we made everything 50 seats and up mainline and quit all this regional vs. regional whipsawing nonsense we wouldn't have this problem:D
 

esa17

Well-Known Member
So you think you're a better pilot. Hmm. How do you define better? Do you get the passengers there faster? Does he break the airplane and you don't? I need to know the metrics here.

(By the way, unless he or she is a complete cabbage head there is hardly any chance you are more skilled flying the same plane and same route than someone who has been doing it for 3 years longer than you, regardless of how good a pilot you are.)
I don't buy that last part for a second, EVERYONE knows someone who is for what ever reason a lesser pilot than they are. The reasons people don't like merit based pay is now they have to put up or shut up. While it may be true that the guy who graduates last in his class in med school is still called "Doctor" that doesn't mean I want him cutting into me.
 

BajtheJino

I'm looking at you.
No, you won't. Unless the test was improperly done or a false positive that is.
Uh, maybe its a case by case scenario. I know a guy that did this. He still shuttles people around in a tube at high speeds. Yay!, for technical skill and know-how, down with mediocrity and sub par performance!

I don't buy that last part for a second, EVERYONE knows someone who is for what ever reason a lesser pilot than they are. The reasons people don't like merit based pay is now they have to put up or shut up. While it may be true that the guy who graduates last in his class in med school is still called "Doctor" that doesn't mean I want him cutting into me.
Precisely.
 

esa17

Well-Known Member
Another good thing about the union is if you come to work drunk or test positive for cocaine you'll get to keep your job.
While this example is way over the top I understand the point. When I first joined the site there was a post about someone driving a CRJ into a ditch or something similar. I was shocked that there was an instant call for "I hope he has a good union rep to save his job."

If you're a dolt you DESERVE to lose your job regardless of representation.
 

SpiraMirabilis

Possible Subversive
I don't buy that last part for a second, EVERYONE knows someone who is for what ever reason a lesser pilot than they are. The reasons people don't like merit based pay is now they have to put up or shut up. While it may be true that the guy who graduates last in his class in med school is still called "Doctor" that doesn't mean I want him cutting into me.
Granted I was talking about compared to a new guy even a cabbage head thats been there 3 years will be able to do a lot better. He's at least got things figured out through trial and error.

What about the first part? How are you a better pilot? How can this be measured? Do you get people to their destinations faster than other pilots? Are you able to do your preflight inspection quicker than another pilot, hence depart quicker? I don't understand. Air line pilots are trained to be interchangeable within the position and aircraft they fly. We're what economists would call a fungible commodity. Since we are able to replace one another basically at will how then shall we determine our pay and seniority? Shall I look on your on time performance for the last six months to determine whether or not you get to upgrade into bigger equipment or seat? Shall I look at your 0d times? Which metric makes a better pilot?

Additionally, even non-union carriers have the same seniority based system. Ask yourself -- why is this? Could it be for safety?
 

jhugz

#lighttwin Mafia
Really this post isn't made to start a flame war but think about it:

Do we think so highly of ALPA because it is all we have? If we didn't have them we would be working for -teen hour workdays, no paid dead heads, etc. etc. etc. I do give ALPA the respect they deserve with protecting the workforce against administrative action. That is only 1 category. However ALL the pilot unions are not doing nearly enough for pay. I can think of no other job in the world that takes the amount of work and money we put into for training and then pays us less then a manager @ Mickey D's. Something needs to change and ALPA IN MY OPINION will not be the one's to do it.
 

SurferLucas

Southern Gentleman
Just to make a remark on Horizon's pay scale.

Here at Horizon, all FO's can make RJ pay reguardless of equipment they're on. I am/was on the Q400, but I made 2nd year Q200 pay for almost 4 months after I was on 2nd year pay.

At Horizon, if you start on the Q400...that's the plane that you will remain on until you upgrade. The only way you're going from airplane to airplane as an FO is if the company retiring an aircraft (such as the Q200 right now) or downgrading captains (such as Q200 Captains going to the RJ, even if they were Q200/Q400 FO's).

So let's say out of 350 or so pilots, the top 100 FO's would make CRJ pay. The next 200 would be on the Q400 payscale and the rest would be on the Q200 pay.

With the retirement of the Q200 at the end of October, everyone who is not on RJ pay will be on Q400 pay.

(Clear as mud?)

On a happier note, I just flew my last trip at Horizon last week...I leave Oregon on wednesday headed back to Atlanta!!! :rawk:
 

esa17

Well-Known Member
Granted I was talking about compared to a new guy even a cabbage head thats been there 3 years will be able to do a lot better. He's at least got things figured out through trial and error.

What about the first part? How are you a better pilot? How can this be measured? Do you get people to their destinations faster than other pilots? Are you able to do your preflight inspection quicker than another pilot, hence depart quicker? I don't understand. Air line pilots are trained to be interchangeable within the position and aircraft they fly. We're what economists would call a fungible commodity. Since we are able to replace one another basically at will how then shall we determine our pay and seniority? Shall I look on your on time performance for the last six months to determine whether or not you get to upgrade into bigger equipment or seat? Shall I look at your 0d times? Which metric makes a better pilot?
Metrics are easy to come by but most things are intangible. Sure, we can compare test scores, peer evaluations, and even procedural knowledge but the fact of the matter is I pride myself on working harder than everyone else. Hard work used to be something people weren't afraid of, having a job used to be looked at as a reward FOR hard work. Now people seem to feel entitled and I hate that. Being born, or having tenure, should entitle you to nothing but the chance to outwork the other guy. I succeed for me, not for some so-called brotherhood which when push comes to shove will cut you loose. Silly work rules and entitled attitudes won't make the world a better place but raising the bar independently of the whole will accomplish that goal.

Additionally, even non-union carriers have the same seniority based system. Ask yourself -- why is this? Could it be for safety?
No, its not for safety. If it were for safety then you would certainly see a merit based system in place. This system is in place because its established and is the status quo, that is the long and short of it. Yes, we are trained to be interchangeable and yes we are all trained using the same CRM guidelines but show me someone who has never been in the cockpit with a bag of hammers and I'll show you a liar.


I won't pretend to say "unions are bad mmm'kay" but they certainly could use a little tweaking.
 

Matt13C

Well-Known Member
Metrics are easy to come by but most things are intangible. Sure, we can compare test scores, peer evaluations, and even procedural knowledge but the fact of the matter is I pride myself on working harder than everyone else. Hard work used to be something people weren't afraid of, having a job used to be looked at as a reward FOR hard work. Now people seem to feel entitled and I hate that. Being born, or having tenure, should entitle you to nothing but the chance to outwork the other guy. I succeed for me, not for some so-called brotherhood which when push comes to shove will cut you loose. Silly work rules and entitled attitudes won't make the world a better place but raising the bar independently of the whole will accomplish that goal.


No, its not for safety. If it were for safety then you would certainly see a merit based system in place. This system is in place because its established and is the status quo, that is the long and short of it. Yes, we are trained to be interchangeable and yes we are all trained using the same CRM guidelines but show me someone who has never been in the cockpit with a bag of hammers and I'll show you a liar.


I won't pretend to say "unions are bad mmm'kay" but they certainly could use a little tweaking.

I don't have an opinion either way because honestly I do not know enough. I don't work in the airline industry yet, I only aspire to. I hope the unions, at the urging of the pilots are successful in getting wages and QOL increased.

I do have a question though on your "work harder" argument. As a pilot on a commercial airline is there not a set or procedures in place that everyone has to follow? Does not every pilot have a set number of hours they can fly, per day and month? So how does one work harder?

I think flying a plane is different from most other professions. I work in marketing currently, there is always something that can be done. An new idea that can be planed and implemented. There are always results to be analyzed and compared to find trends. I could work 8 hours or I could work 16 and there would still be work I could do. This can be noticed my managers and may be rewarded.

In an airplane when you are flying along in cruise for 5 hours what can be done that is not already required? Can you be a union rep? Is that compensated? If you hold a line, can you pick up extra trips or do you normally reach your limits?
 

Clocks

Well-Known Member
Metrics are easy to come by but most things are intangible. Sure, we can compare test scores, peer evaluations, and even procedural knowledge but the fact of the matter is I pride myself on working harder than everyone else.
So you think you should be paid more because you think you work harder than everyone else?

Classic. I bet you walk on water and your farts smell like vanilla too.

The unions shouldn't work as hard as they do at protecting pilots who do stupid things intentionally. But I've yet to see anyone present any metrics for comparing pilots that justify different pay without encouraging reg breaking.
 

CoffeeIcePapers

Well-Hung Member
While this example is way over the top I understand the point. When I first joined the site there was a post about someone driving a CRJ into a ditch or something similar. I was shocked that there was an instant call for "I hope he has a good union rep to save his job."

If you're a dolt you DESERVE to lose your job regardless of representation.
Or the guys that fell asleep going to Hawaii.
 

esa17

Well-Known Member
So you think you should be paid more because you think you work harder than everyone else?

Classic. I bet you walk on water and your farts smell like vanilla too.
Most certainly not, but I work my tail off and I have seen PLENTY of people who would rather hide behind guarded protections than put in an honest days work.


Besides, if my farts smelled like vanilla I'd be Oprah.
 
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