Sun Country pilots to picket Wednesday

  • Article by: DAVID PHELPS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 18, 2012 - 9:34 PM

They seek "fair contract'' from now-profitable airline.

Pilots for Sun Country Airlines will conduct informational picketing outside Terminal 2 at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Wednesday to protest what they say is an outdated contract that leaves them economically disadvantaged compared with pilots at other airlines.

The 20-pilot picket line will rotate in shifts from noon until 2 p.m in front of the former Humphrey terminal. Sun Country's 180 pilots are represented by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA).

"We're looking for a fair contract and parity in wages," ALPA spokesman Jake Yockers said Tuesday. "We're very unhappy with the pace of negotiations."

Sun Country officials did not return calls or e-mails Tuesday seeking comment on the labor talks with pilots.

Yockers said Sun Country pilots have been working under terms of a contract that dates to early 2010. He said salaries are about half of what pilots for Southwest Airlines are paid for flying the same Boeing 737 aircraft.

Sun Country, which reported net income of $4.3 million in 2011, sought bankruptcy protection in 2008 and imposed a 50 percent employee pay cut to keep flying during a difficult economy and the financial collapse of then-owner Tom Petters. The now-convicted Wayzata businessman used proceeds from his $3.65 billion Ponzi scheme to prop up Sun Country during its troubled years. The airline lost nearly $60 million in 2007 and 2008.

The Mendota Heights-based carrier emerged from bankruptcy in February 2011 and has been profitable since.

It was sold last year to the Davis family of southern Minnesota, owners of the rapidly growing Cambria countertop company based in Le Sueur and operators of the cheese and dairy business Davisco Foods International.

David Phelps • 612-673-7269

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