Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pilots plan strike vote at Evergreen International Airlines

Crew members at Evergreen International Airlines Inc., the global air-cargo company based in McMinnville, plan to vote whether to strike after negotiating for six years without a contract.

Pilots and flight engineers are scheduled to start voting Dec. 1 on whether to approve a strike if negotiations fail, said Tawnya Burket, a spokeswoman for the Air Line Pilots Association, International. A strike would be a first at Evergreen, a subsidiary of privately held Evergreen International Aviation Inc. "Pilots are nearing their limit of frustration and dissatisfaction with management, even as they continue to provide exemplary professional service," said a statement released Wednesday by the union. A company representative declined to comment.

Evergreen flies Boeing 747 freighters around the world from hubs at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport and California's Travis Air Force Base. Other Evergreen subsidiaries run farms, vineyards and a museum, organize airport logistics and maintain, repair, buy and sell aircraft.

Evergreen Airlines employs about 76 captains and equal numbers of first officers and flight engineers, according to the union. Union leaders declined to disclose salaries.

After losing a contract to a competitor, Evergreen was scheduled in September to finish flying wings and fuselages for Boeing's forthcoming 787 Dreamliner jetliner to final assembly in Everett, Wash. Evergreen used specially modified 747s called Dreamlifters for the high-profile job. Boeing chose New York-based Atlas Air Inc. to take over the job.

Evergreen crew members turned down a tentative pact in August that would have largely renewed a collective bargaining agreement in place since 1999, the union said.

The strike ballot will open Dec. 1 and close Jan. 7. An affirmative vote would authorize declaration of a strike once the pilot group gets permission to do so from the National Mediation Board.

"We certainly want a contract, not a strike," said William Fink, a flight engineer who chairs Evergreen's branch of the pilots union.

(Richard Read - The Oregonian/Business News)

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