USAir reportedly asks workers for wage cuts

October 05, 1991|By John H. Gormley Jr.

USAir Group wants the unions representing its pilots, flight attendants and mechanics to agree to wage concessions ranging from 10 percent to 20 percent, according to Aviation Daily, an industry news service based in Washington.

In its Oct. 2 report, Aviation Daily said that in exchange for th wage concessions, USAir is offering the employees a share of profits and options to purchase stock at a discount. The proposed wage cuts would be:

L * 20 percent for those earning more than $100,000 annually.

* 15 percent for those making $50,000 to $100,000.

* 10 percent for those in the $20,000-to-$50,000 bracket.

USAir announced last week that it expects to lose more than $500 million this year. The company lost $454 million last year.

Dave Shipley, a USAir spokesman, declined yesterday to provide details of the company's proposal to the unions -- the Airline Pilots Association, Association of Flight Attendants and the International Association of Machinists. The company's top management plans to hold meetings nationwide Oct. 14, 15 and 16 to announce details of its proposals, Mr. Shipley said. Baltimore will be the site for one of those meetings, he said.

Chris Beebe, one of the principal negotiators for the USAir pilots, said yesterday that his group had met with company officials Thursday to discuss the proposals, but he too declined to provide details. Talks were held by the Machinists with USAir yesterday, a union spokesman said.

USAir is the dominant airline at Baltimore-Washington International Airport. The company employs about 2,500 people in the Baltimore area. Several of those employees said yesterday that they had been told nothing official from the company or the unions about the proposals.

One flight attendant said that the proposal could put employees in the difficult spot of having to determine just how badly the airline needs the concessions. "No one wants their pay taken away, but we don't want to lose our jobs either," the attendant said.

"Morale is going to be damaged," said another attendant. But she said that she expects the unions to prevent the company from getting all it wants. "I'm union," she said. "I don't think this will happen."

It is not clear what demands, if any, the airline will make of its non-union employees, who do not work under a contract. "It's hard to make a concession when you don't have a contract," said one man.

None of the employees interviewed would agree to be identified by name, saying the company had told them not to talk to the press.

Jack Ciesielski, an analyst who follows USAir for Legg Mason in Baltimore, said that the company needs the savings the concessions would bring. "They're very serious about taking out several hundred million. Those are serious numbers," he said.

He does not believe the airline faces a financial crisis in the short term. The company has a comfortable cash cushion that should allow it to ride out the next few months.

But he added, "They need cuts to get to any kind of profitability again."

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