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Mon, Oct 16, 2023

Union Requests Mediation in Sun Country Negotiations

Airline and Mechanics Deadlocked

After protracted and fruitless negotiations with the management of Minneapolis, Minnesota-based Sun Country Airlines (SCA), the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA) has prevailed upon the National Mediation Board (NMB) to appoint a federal mediator charged with overseeing the bargaining process.

In the event the NMB determines the AMFA and Sun Country have arrived at an impasse, the agency may release the latter from negotiations, thereby enabling the union to call a strike after a thirty-day so-called cooling-off period.

AMFA sets forth it filed for mediation "because of Sun Country's delay tactics and failure to bargain in good faith toward a first contract. Sun Country reported record profits in its second-quarter and chose to use those profits to buy back $30-million in its stock rather than address the resignation of skilled maintenance personnel and the future possibility of a job action."

Following AMFA’s 2022 winning of an overwhelmingly favorable vote for craft-specific union representation, the NMB designated the union the representative of SCA’s Aircraft Maintenance Technicians (AMTs) and related employees. The drive for union representation evinced SCA employees’ disenchantment with the air-carrier’s management and repudiation of its practices.

AMFA National President Brett Oestreich stated: "When these negotiations began, we anticipated that both parties would reach a tentative agreement within a reasonable timeframe, especially in light of the mass exodus SCA was experiencing in its AMT and related workgroups. Management has openly recognized their serious trouble hiring and retaining skilled and experienced aircraft technicians, maintenance controllers, ground support technicians, planners, and technical analysts they desperately need. Understaffing aircraft maintenance lines has become chronic. Yet Sun Country chooses to line its executives' pockets to maximize short-term profit rather than address the aviation safety implications arising from the loss of skilled technicians."

The union reported SCA, during the latest round of contract negotiations, offered its most senior and experienced AMTs a pitiful half-percent increase in hourly pay. Worse still, SCA management proposed a pay freeze for other skilled AMTs and maintenance support personnel.

Mr. Oestreich added: "Our AMFA membership at Sun Country plays a significant role in producing a safe, reliable, and on-time aircraft for Amazon Prime, chartered passengers, professional athletes, the flying public, and flight crews. Unfortunately, the recent reprehensible economic offer in the September negotiation session of a point-five percent raise in hourly wages for the most senior and skilled maintenance technicians does not show SCA employees the recognition they deserve. We believe that under NMB oversight, SCA would never have stooped to this type of gamesmanship at the negotiating table.

Oestreich concluded: "With the impending shortage of experienced AMTs at SCA, AMFA believes airline safety requires that our members obtain a contract that provides a living wage. AMFA will refrain from any strike activity or job action until the NMB releases us from mediation."

FMI: www.amfanational.org

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