Sun Country downsizing with 'threat of a shutdown'

Sun Country Airlines is reportedly about to downsize before “its ultimate shutdown” amid turbulence with the airline's pilots.

Sun Country Airlines is reportedly about to downsize with the threat of an "ultimate shutdown" amid turbulence with the airline's pilots.

Sun Country Airlines Chairman and owner Marty Davis listed reasons for a shutdown in a letter to Brian Roseen, chairman of Sun Country Airlines Master Executive Council. The letter reads, in part:

"Brian, our management team has begun the process of downsizing the airline, for what will need to be its ultimate shut down……We do not feel any ill will towards the pilots, it is, and happened, as we said it should on many occasions; we made our final offer, you decided the pilots cannot accept it. The one caveat, we do feel we should have worked together to bring these realities to the pilots, allowing the pilot membership to vote, but that is your decision."

Full letter: 'Sun Country pilot discussions'

In a statement -- in full below -- Roseen responded with disappointment in "the threat of a shutdown."

"We are disappointed Mr. Davis has chosen to respond to us with the threat of a shutdown even as the Association is prepared to present its counter-proposal. We appreciate the NMB's tireless efforts to conduct mediation, and reiterate that our pilots are determined to rise above their current status as the lowest-paid B-737 scheduled service pilots in the country," Roseen said.

Sun Country declined to comment on its issues with the pilots union, the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), but said "nothing happening at Sun Country will impact our current customers."

In February, the airline authorized union leaders to call a strike if they couldn't reach a federally-mediated contract agreement. The two sides began working with the mediator back in 2012. The pilots wanted a raise, claiming they are lowest-paid 737 pilots in the United States. They've been actively negotiating for 5 years, Davis said in the email.

Statement from Capt. Brian Roseen

"The Sun Country Master Executive Council (SCA MEC) of the Air Line Pilots Association, International, the collective bargaining representative of SCA pilots, has received media inquiries related to reports about a communication from SCA management threatening a wind down of Sun Country Airlines.

"Yesterday, the SCA MEC received an e-mail from Mr. Marty Davis, Chairman and owner of Sun Country. Mr. Davis' e-mail asserts that after five years of negotiations, the first comprehensive economic proposal presented by the company is also its ‘last, best and final' proposal. In essence, it's a take-it or leave-it offer. He claims that he has begun the process of downsizing the airline, although we have seen no evidence of this. In the interest of full disclosure to our members, we forwarded Mr. Davis' communication to the pilot group last night.

"Mediation required under the provisions of the Railway Labor Act is now being conducted by the National Mediation Board in Washington, DC. The Association has made clear its willingness to meet anytime and anywhere to continue mediation. The NMB has tentatively set May 27-29 in Washington, DC as the scheduled next date for meetings. ALPA believes the Company was unwilling to meet sooner. At that meeting, ALPA will provide a counter-proposal to the Company's offer that seeks to narrow the remaining gaps between the parties' positions.

"We are disappointed Mr. Davis has chosen to respond to us with the threat of a shutdown even as the Association is prepared to present its counter-proposal. We appreciate the NMB's tireless efforts to conduct mediation, and reiterate that our pilots are determined to rise above their current status as the lowest-paid B-737 scheduled service pilots in the country.

"Sun Country pilots intend to show up for work tomorrow and continue to do our jobs the way we always have -- safely, professionally and courteously. The Association looks forward to opportunities later this month to continue our good-faith efforts to reach a comprehensive agreement that reflects established pay and benefit patterns, and trusts that Company executives will participate with the same intention."

Letter from Roseen to Sun Country pilots

We have been waiting for the NMB to give us specific dates for our next meeting, and have made clear our willingness to meet anytime and anywhere to continue mediation. The NMB now has tentatively set May 27-29th as the scheduled date for meetings. We believe the Company was unwilling to meet sooner. As earlier described, the ALPA team prepared a counter proposal that we are ready to present at that meeting.

In the meantime, we have tried unsuccessfully to substantiate the Company's claim that its proposal is a 20% improvement over current book. The ALPA Economic and Financial Analysis Department valued the Company pay proposal at only 13% over a full five years.

Our ALPA analysts contacted the Company and left messages to try to understand the Company's costing, but never got their call returned. When you consider that the period covered is the last 5 years during which our pay rates were not increased, and the next 5 years of a new contract, that increase is far below the expectations you voiced. In fact, the Company proposal would still leave us the lowest-paid 737 scheduled service pilots in the country!

Despite our work to prepare a counter-proposal, the NMB's efforts to schedule mediation, and our attempts to reach Company officials to resolve costing, today we received the attached letter from Mr. Davis. The letter contains threats and bargaining tactics (contending that the Company's first economic proposal is its "last, best and final proposal") that have generally been considered legally impermissible by Courts and government agencies. Of course, the totality of the Company's conduct, and its frequent efforts to delay completion of these negotiations (including months to prepare for a contract costing meeting and additional months for the Company to prepare its economic proposal), reinforce these concerns.
You have seen information from us and from management on the Company's proposal. You have made it clear to us that it was not enough and you have told us not to bother putting such offers out for a vote because they would go down in flames. We know that waiting is hard. We know that uncertainty is uncomfortable. But we also know that you have directed us to get a contract that doesn't leave us at the bottom of the industry. We have heard you.

We recognize that a Company's owners can make decisions about winding down a business. We also believe, however, that multi-million dollar business decisions are made for sound business reasons rather than because of a party's frustration over good faith, arms-length negotiations that reflect established industry pay patterns.

We are 100 percent ready to continue to bargain with management in good faith to achieve a fair and reasonable contract. We will always be open to constructive discussions with senior management and we will always be open to real problem-solving. Unfortunately, we haven't seen the same willingness on the Company's part. And, we continue to believe that our contribution to the Company's survival and success must be consistent with other pilots.

We trust the Company is willing to bargain in good faith. We know we are.

In Unity,
Brian, Joel and Terry

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