Early this morning, Alaska Airlines announced they were the successful bidder for the purchase of Virgin America Airlines. As we have said before, it seems the airline consolidation is still taking place. With all of our experience with mergers, we are in the best position to do the best for our members. Our positive working relationship with Alaska Airlines will also help in protecting our members in this transaction.
While many details of this transaction have not been released, as more information is released, we will keep you informed on how this transaction will affect you. Our contracts provide protections in cases of mergers or acquisitions and calls for meetings between the company and the union within 30 days of the announcement. The company has reached out to us and we will begin those talks very soon.
We will keep our members updated as details are discussed. At this time there are more questions than answers. We will begin a Question & Answer shortly and will add to it as more information becomes available.
PRESIDENT & DIRECTING
Virgin America Transaction Q&A
Q — Do Virgin America ground employees have the benefit of union representation and protection?
A— Virgin America Ramp Service, Customer Service, Reservation Agent, Office & Clerical employees and Stock Clerks are not represented by any labor union.
Q — Will we still be represented by the IAM?
A — Railway Labor Act regulations and National Mediation Board (NMB) procedures will determine the certified collective bargaining representative for each classification in a combined Alaska/Virgin workforce. The IAM will be your representative throughout that process.
The NMB may order an election for some classifications to determine the certified representative. It depends on the size of each classification from each airline. Nothing would be resolved until the NMB concludes that both companies are operating as a single entity for representation purposes.
Q — What happens to our contracts?
A — Contracts will remain in full force and effect until after representation issues are resolved, at a minimum.
Q — Do we have merger protection in our contract?
A — The IAM negotiated language into each Alaska Airlines agreement that guarantees the airline has to discuss with your union the impact the merger could possibly have on the membership, spells out how the two work forces will be combined, prevents systemwide realignment, and a system to resolve disputes. Refer to your particular agreement for specific details.
Q — How will the IAM integrate seniority?
A — The IAM’s longstanding official policy is to integrate seniority by the date of hire into the classification, regardless of which airline or union/non-union status an employee comes from. Further, your contract and federal law require integration be fair and equitable.