LETTER: ‘Shouldn’t workers be talking with Menzies & other Alaska contractors?’

Shouldn’t the workers be talking with Menzies and other Alaska contractors? From my information these jobs were contracted out in response to labor negotiations in 2005. The Alaska average pay was $13.00 an hour and some change at the time (plus benefits). I do not know what the labor union was asking for.

None of the airlines were doing very well in 2005, however, some of the wage cuts (don’t know the amount) negotiated with the pilots union were restored in 2009. I cannot speculate what Alaska would have done for the ramp services workers but it does indicate the ramp service workers might have shot themselves in the head at the time (2005) and wound up losing their jobs altogether. Enter Menzies and lower labor costs to Alaska.

Here is a thought. It seems there are enough experienced workers that can form their own Company and compete with Menzies/contractors on a cost basis and still pay better wages to the workers. (Providing of course the owners/CEO’s of a newly formed company do not do the same thing the current contract companies may be doing now.)

No one ever though that Boeing would move its headquarters from Seattle to Chicago after all these years and nothing stops Alaska from finding a hub elsewhere when it becomes cost effective. The union strategy of 2005 failed for ramp service workers and I am not sure if marching on Alaska versus dealing with your own employers is a good idea. We are now 7 years from the fateful decisions of 2005 and I can only ask both the service workers and Alaska think this through before everyone becomes so polarized we lose both Alaska Airlines as an employer AND those service jobs. That is the last thing we need. With 8.5 percent unemployment reality says those jobs would be filled even if the current workers leave/find better jobs.

To all parties I say start talking (and stop the marching bit) and at least know the poker hand you may be holding and not over play it and lose the pot altogether. There is an old saying “when you dig in your heels be prepared to be dragged out by them.”

To all who read this please join the discussion. I think more information, opinions, and possible solutions would be helpful to all.

– Earl Gipson

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