More Eastern Pilots Vote to Continue Strike With PM-Midway Bid, Bjt
NEW YORK (AP) _ Eastern Airline pilots in informal voting have strongly favored sustaining their 5-month-old strike against the troubled carrier, union officials say.
About 200 Eastern pilots based in the New York area gathered Tuesday at a Newark, N.J., airport hotel. Similar closed-door meetings took place Tuesday evening in Eastern’s home base of Miami and in Alexandria, Va., near Washington, D.C.
Air Line Pilots Association members meeting in Newark voted 203-15 in favor of continuing the strike, union officials said.
″We’re going to keep going, rededicate our efforts and win the strike,″ said Jeffrey Evans, an ALPA spokesman in New York.
In Miami, pilots voted 285-15 to continue the strike, said ALPA spokesman Hank Weber.
″The mood is now that we’re going to start acting like a union,″ said Weber, an Eastern captain. ″We’re going to start getting the other unions involved, the people who serve Continental Airlines with the fuel, the maintenance and so forth, and we’re gonna start acting like a union, finally.″
Continental and Eastern are both subsidiaries of Texas Air Corp.
The Alexandria meeting continued into the early morning hours today without a vote, ALPA said.
Late Monday, Eastern pilots in Atlanta voted 493-121 not to return to work.
ALPA leaders will take the results of these and other straw ballots scheduled for this week to Washington, where they will be discussed by the group’s 20-member master executive council. The council will plan future strike action.
″Democracy will take its course,″ Jack Bavis, head of the Eastern pilots union, said as he left the Newark meeting for Washington.
At a pilots meeting Sunday in Miami, Bavis had presented as his personal view a proposal for calling off the strike, according to an ALPA member who attended the gathering.
″He (Bavis) has no right to say that; it’s not within his authority to say that,″ said the pilot, who asked not to be identified.
ALPA spokesmen said much of the sentiment in the meetings was to urge a national suspension of airline service on Labor Day weekend.
John Mazor, a spokesman at ALPA’s Washington headquarters, said the union’s national leadership has not taken a position yet on whether it would support a national walkout.
He said the possibility of a national walkout was among the topics discussed in a meeting Tuesday between ALPA President Henry Duffy and officials of the AFL-CIO, meeting in Chicago.
AFL-CIO President Lane Kirkland said the federation’s executive council would meet with ALPA leaders about organized labor efforts on behalf of striking Eastern workers.
Asked whether he expected pilots at other airlines to heed the call for a national job action, Bavis replied: ″I’m hopeful. I think all the pilots in the country have a stake in what’s going on here.″
Pilots and flight attendants at Eastern walked out in sympathy with the Machinists union after it struck the carrier March 4. The airline has been operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization since March 9.
Eastern management has said that under its plan to reorganize as a smaller carrier it will need only 1,700 pilots. ALPA has 3,600 members employed by Eastern.
″I don’t think we’ll have any comment on the pilots’ votes,″ Eastern spokesman Robin Matell said from Miami.
Also, Matell said, Eastern is no longer divulging how many ALPA pilots have crossed picket lines. In the past, the company announced rising numbers of crossovers, but Matell would not explain the reason for the policy change.
Eastern last week said pilot crossovers since the strike began numbered 385, up from 200 at the outset. In addition, 300 newly hired pilots had completed training and 700 more were in training, the company said.