WALL STREET JOURNAL:
US Air Rebuffed Offer To Work On Philadelphia Hub - Union
Wednesday December 29
WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)--The International Association of Machinists and
Aerospace Workers union said US Airways Group Inc. (UAIRQ) rebuffed its
offer to assist reorganizing operations at the airline's Philadelphia
worker shortages snarled thousands of travelers in a Christmas nightmare.
In a press release Wednesday, the union said the carrier refused to meet
representatives and described the union's offer to "play a major
in transforming the Philadelphia hub into a safe, efficient operation," as "
Over the Christmas break, US Airways canceled hundreds of flights and
10,000 undelivered bags at Philadelphia, as well as stranding thousands of
customers, according to The Associated Press.
The union has 8,200 US Airways members.
The Washington Post reported Wednesday that the airline petitioned
unpaid assistance over the New Year's weekend to prevent a recurrence of the
shortages, caused in part by a spike in sick calls.
"You will not be paid if this is on your day(s) off. It promises to be a
rewarding opportunity to learn more about the operation of our airline
face to face with our customers," The Post quoted a US Airways memo as
An International Association of Machinists spokesman told Dow Jones
Wednesday that US Airways denies it's making that offer.
"It's a violation of law to have people work for nothing, not to mention a
violation of our contracts," the spokesman said. "Because of the
members' wages are already low. We're not about to start working for free."
The spokesman said the airline's position is now "completely different"
reported in the Post.
"Maybe somebody told them it's a violation of law to ask people to work for
free," he said.
Reached later, a spokesman for US Airways said the company asked
days off over the New Year's weekend to come without pay to the
and assist passengers, in an effort to prevent logjams at security gates and
"They may be standing there greeting customers who arrive," said US Air
spokesman David Castelveter. "[Volunteers will be] checking their
help them get through the check-in process quicker - they may not need
in the ticket counter line when they could use kiosks - offering
to get through security quicker, telling them what documents they need."
The spokesman didn't reveal how many employees had signed up for the airport
philanthropy measure so far but said there had been a very positive
including volunteers from among management ranks.
The spokesman said shaving a minute off processing time for each
make a considerable difference.
"If the lady says 'sir I need to see your ticket' and you put your bags
sort through for the ticket - that process might be a minute, multiply
the number of people in the line," he said.
The spokesman said scheduled workers at Philadelphia would be compensated.
"The guy in Philadelphia loading bags or checking in customers, if he or she
scheduled to work, he or she will be paid," he said.
The International Assocation of Machinist union workers, which represents
baggage handlers and mechanics, are pulling in 21% lower wages than this
last year by court order, the US Airways spokesman said. He said the pay cut
came because the sides have not concluded renegotiating wage terms.
Further, the union's restructuring suggestions for the Philadelphia hub
"meaningful," he added.
"Their suggestions were well meant and understood but didn't come close to
meeting our costcutting objectives," he said.
-Rob Curran; Dow Jones Newswires