Eastern to Negotiate with Pilots Union
MIAMI (AP) _ Negotiators for Eastern Airlines and the pilots union will meet Tuesday, less than a week after the pilots ended their 8 1/2 -month walkout.
Pilots union spokesman Skip Orr said today the session is part of contract negotiations that have gone on sporadically since the pilots’ contract became open to amendment more than a year ago. The pilots’ walkout was officially a sympathy strike for the Eastern Machinists union, which went on strike after 1 1/2 years of federally mediated talks ended.
Miami-based Eastern said in a statement that it scheduled the negotiating session as part of ″steps to return to a normal labor relations environment.″ No other details were immediately available. The company also said it wants to resume negotiations with the Transport Workers Union, which represents flight attendants at Eastern.
The flight attendants followed the pilots last week in ending their sympathy strike, leaving only the Machinists union on the picket lines.
The talks with the pilots union are in federal mediation. Eastern had earlier sought in bankruptcy court to have the pilots’ contract invalidated, but later withdrew that request.
The two sides had been far apart, Orr said, but a major new issue will be the recall of the 2,200 pilots who had been on strike. Eastern says it has no pilot jobs open and that it won’t bump replacement pilots hired during the strike.
Eastern on Friday amended an earlier request that U.S. District Court in Miami clarify the rights of employees who are currently working and determine the rights of those who wish to return to work.
″In fairness to all parties (Eastern) wants to quickly eliminate any uncertainties about employee status,″ Eastern’s statement said.
Orr said the negotiations on returning union pilots to work will demonstrate the company’s attitudes toward its workers.
″I think it would probably prevent possible litigation. It would indicate to everyone concerned that they really do want to rebuild Eastern with the most experienced people available,″ Orr said.
″And it would indicate by actions rather than just words that they do want to work with labor groups. We’ve never seen any indications of that.″