Pilots with Frontier Airlines, upset over a lack of progress in negotiations for a new labor contract with the Denver-based carrier, have rolled out a new tool in their campaign to pressure their employer: a 37-foot camper.

The “mobile strike center” parked in front of Denver City and County Building for two hours Wednesday. Dismissed as a ploy by the airline, the RV features an image of a hawk with its talons bared and the slogan “Frontier Pilots: 100 percent ready to strike.” On board is a  bedroom-turned conference room with a TV tracking all Frontier planes. If pilots choose to walk off the job, they can see if the airline is bringing in replacement crews to fly and use the RV as a mobile meeting place.

During their two-hour plus stint in Civic Center, pilots who make up the leadership of Frontier’s unit of the Air Line Pilots Association, or ALPA, labor union took refuge from the heat on board the RV and made their case that their current contract is unfair. The pilots and airline management have been in negotiations for two years.

“We are the last carrier to be working under a bankruptcy-era contract and Frontier enjoys a great cost advantage based off that,” Capt. Michael Maynard, vice president of the pilot union’s executive council, said.

Frontier spokesman Richard Oliver wrote Wednesday in an email, “We continue to be actively engaged in negotiations with our pilots for a new contract and have exchanged several proposals under the guidance of the National Mediation Board.

“We look forward to working toward an agreement that is fair, sustainable, and provides security for our collective future,” Oliver continued. “Frontier is disappointed that ALPA is resorting to publicity stunts rather than focusing its energy on negotiations.”

Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post

Strike committee chairman and Frontier first officer Mathew Moser is seen working in the pilot’s union’s “mobile strike center.” It was parking in front of the Denver City and County on Wednesday, July 11, 2018.

Maynard, who has worked for the airline for 11 years, said Frontier pilots make 40 to 60 percent less than peers who fly narrow-body aircraft, when pay, retirement and benefits are taken into account. Pilots agreed to $55 million in concessions in 2009 and 2011 when Frontier was on the verge of collapse.

Now, after a pivot to an ultra-low-cost operation model, Frontier is profitable and growing, routinely flying between 320 and 350 flights a day to 90 North American destinations. But it is refusing to come through on promises to share the riches with its more than 1,200 pilots, Maynard said. The airline was dinged in September by an arbiter who ruled it acted in bad faith when it did not deliver on promises in its 2011 contract to raise pilot pay when certain profit margins were met. Pilots voted to authorize a strike the next day.

“Our goal has been and continues to be to reach a market-rate deal with Frontier management, but if the company fails to negotiate in good faith towards that deal, and the tool is offered to us by the National Mediation Board, we will exercise our right to a lawful work stoppage,” Maynard said.



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