Alaska Airlines pilots plan picket over lack of compensation

Alaska Airlines pilots have reached a breaking point in negotiations with the company, and now have plans to picket outside Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.

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Their union, the largest in North America, said the pilots are not being compensated as well as their peers at other successful airline companies.

Alaska Airlines said its pilots will be getting a significant wage increase, but the company is trying to stay competitive and offer the lowest fares possible.

But the union isn’t buying that argument.

Jenn Sutton is a spokesperson for the Alaska Master Executive Council of the Airline Pilots Association, which represents the more than 2,500 Alaska and Virgin America pilots.

“Alaska management has continued to insist the pilots should accept a contract that is below the market rate,” Sutton said.

The negotiations have been ongoing since Alaska and Virgin American began merging last year.

Sutton said the Alaska and Virgin pilots want better pay, better retirement and better job security.

“They see what the other pilot contracts are, and they work for a successful, highly respected airline, and it’s really pretty baffling to our pilots why they should not have a contract that reflects the market,” Sutton said.

The pilots plan to picket outside the airport in Anchorage on Monday.

Sutton said airport security regulations will limit the protest to a couple dozen at a time and pilots will be rotating in, some coming straight off their shifts from the plane to picketing.

Alaska Airlines spokeswoman Marilyn Romano said the airline is hoping to reach a conclusion to the negotiations through arbitration, but she refused to answer any questions not addressed in a two-sentence statement from Alaska Airlines.

“The picketing on Monday will not interfere with our operations and we don’t anticipate any related interruptions to passenger service on Monday,” Romano said.

The protest is set to start at 1 p.m.