Atlas And Polar Air Cargo Pilots To Receive Groundbreaking Contract


  Bookmark and Share

Atlas And Polar Air Cargo Pilots To Receive Groundbreaking Contract

By Eddy Metcalf

April 26, 2011 - It’s been slightly over two years since the pilots and flight engineers of Atlas Air and Polar Air Cargo, (AAWW) voted to leave another pilot union to join the Teamsters Airline Division.

This week, they began briefings on what eluded them for years with their previous union and led to their joining the Airline Division. Something they have now accomplished with the Teamsters; the joint collective bargaining agreement. 

While the three sections awaiting the ruling of a Federal arbitrator are expected shortly, the negotiating committee and members of the Executive Council conducted a crewmember meeting describing the highlights of the new SCBA in Miami this past week.

Committee Chairman Captain Bob Ulrich presented to the crewmembers what can be described by any critical measure as a game changing contract in an industry where pilots have suffered devastating losses in pay, pensions, benefits and changes in work rules that have eroded their quality of life in recent years. The new contract now places the crewmembers of the new combined unit; known as Atlas Air Worldwide, on par with the pay and benefits of many “legacy” passenger airlines, who have long been considered the “gold standard.” 

In addition to hourly rate pay raises averaging 30% for Polar and 14% for Atlas that brings the two groups to parity; work rule changes over the current working agreements can yield a monthly increase of up to a 41% for Atlas crewmembers and a 50%for Polar crewmembers, when compared to similar flying conducted under the old work rules.  

Travel, long a concern for the crews who operate around the world on very difficult schedules was also extensively improved, allowing crews the ability to get home in an expedited manner after they have completed their trip. Additionally, improvements on the number of days of vacation, additional medical disability coverage, an expedited grievance process with the union control of the docket, and a 10.5 million dollar signing bonus are some of the additional improvements in the agreement. 

Profit sharing is also extended to the Polar crews in the agreement as well. In March, the Atlas crewmembers received profit sharing calculated at 20.1% of their past years W-2 salary. “When we began this process two years ago, Airline Division Director  David Bourne promised our pilots and the negotiating committee that while the decisions were ours to make, he would be there to fully support us as we moved forward,” said Ulrich. “He delivered on that promise with the Airline Division, and with the entire International offering us tremendous support.


“It was because of Dave’s support that we were able to bring in Captain Rick Dubinsky as our professional negotiator. Ricks expertise, which was responsible for negotiating the biggest airline pilot contract in history at United Airlines, was critical to our success. We were also able to have with us John Wentz, the outside legal counsel for the Airline Division and Local 1224 as our lead legal counsel.

"His expertise in writing the language of the new SCBA was invaluable in ensuring the language of our contract was written in a way that provides us the strongest leverage possible should we ever need to go to arbitration on an issue. 

"When it came to scope;  one of the most critical areas of the contract, when we asked Captain Bourne for his thoughts, he suggested we talk to Roland Wilder, who is recognized as the best attorney in the country on Scope language to ensure we have the strongest scope language possible. Our decision to bring him aboard gave us a tremendous team at the table,” Ulrich continued. 

Additionally, we had help from Airline Division Representative Scott Hegland. Crewmember negotiators were Polar Captain Dan Wells who was on the former Polar Negotiating Committee Chairman, Atlas First Officer Paul Kvernplassen and Atlas Captain Bill Holcomb who was on the Scope subcommittee with Dan Wells. The make-up of this Negotiating Team is what made our outcome possible.  

“One thing that became readily apparent as we proceeded was the tremendous disadvantage our previous Atlas Air union leadership and negotiating team were under from the first contract. They inherited a flawed document that had been rejected by the members and were given very little opportunity by the NMB and our previous national union to do anything but make just enough structural changes to get it ratified,” Ulrich said.

“In the years that followed, they tried everything they could to make more changes and they deserve credit for their tireless efforts. Our crewmembers stood strong throughout this long, drawn out process and the leadership and support from our TEC, and Local 1224 Present Joe Muckle has been excellent. In the end however, the one person who was always there for us in the background was Division Director Dave Bourne.


When we needed something, he always delivered. In my opinion it was his leadership as the Division Director and knowing that we would have the support from Dave, as well as General President Hoffa and 1.6 million Teamsters if we needed it, which made this contract possible,” Ulrich concluded. 

Other News Stories (For the latest news please checkout our home page)


Home Aviation News Aviation Stories Of Interest FAA Exam Upcoming Events Links To Other Sites General Aviation Helicopters Medical Factors Facing Pilots
Maintenance and Aircraft Mechanics Hot Air Balloon Aviation Training Handbooks Read Online Aviation History Legal Issues In Aviation Sea Planes Editorials
 ©AvStop Online Magazine                                                                 Contact Us                                                  Return To News                                          Bookmark and Share


AvStop Aviation News and Resource Online Magazine

Grab this Headline Animator