LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A group of United Airlines pilots gathered in an airport parking lot Thursday where they claimed stalled contract negotiations have forced them to sleep in between shifts.
KNX 1070’s Vytas Safronikas reports the pilots offered a tour of what they call the “LAX Ghetto”.
“It’s about a hundred motor homes, black asphalt, in the summer it’s hot, in the winter it’s cold, and it’s noisy,” said Jon Dudley with the Airline Pilots Association as he described Lot E at Los Angeles International Airport.
The “ghetto” is where many United pilots sleep when they stay overnight in L.A. to keep costs down for the company, which has struggled to recover from the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C.
Pilots who have been working under a 9-year-old bankruptcy contract negotiated after 9/11 said there has been little progress in current talks that have been ongoing for over 2 years.
“We’re not asking for the world, we just want something fair,” said pilot Scott Kambas. “We’re getting nothing on the other end.”
The group has even launched The Unfriendly Skies website to keep the public abreast of what it alleges are repeated company failures to restore wide-reaching cuts made after 9/11 to stay competitive, including an average 42 percent pay cut, lost pensions and over 1,400 furloughed workers.
But Dudley said as devastating as the financial toll from the cutbacks has been, the emotional turmoil has been far worse.
“[It’s] resulted in a suicide rate three times greater than the national average, the divorce rate has skyrocketed,” he said.
United CEO Jeff Smisek was also invited to tour the makeshift sleeping quarters, but none of the carrier’s executives were seen on Thursday.