Update on the Air France Pilot Strike
Today the strike by the Air France pilots enters its fourth day over their company’s desire to redirect assets to its low-cost subsidiary, Transavia. ALPA is in direct contact with Air France pilot union leaders, and is receiving regular updates. In this True Headings we will provide insights on the current situation and how labor unions work at Air France, review the unique work stoppage protective provisions in our PWA, and correct yet more misinformation from the individuals calling themselves the “DPA”.
First, some background on French labor law, and specifically the pilot union situation at Air France. There are significant differences in labor law between the United States and France. The French Constitution guarantees freedom of association to a liberal extent, and more than one union can have bargaining rights for the same class of employees at a company. In the case of Air France, several unions represent its pilots and the number of supporters each union holds within the pilot group determines the place it has at the bargaining table.
Today, Air France employs approximately 3,700 pilots. About 75 percent of the Air France pilots belong to one of several unions, and union affiliation is not required. The largest of the unions, representing about 2,700 pilots is Syndicat National des Pilotes de Ligne, commonly referred to as SNPL. The other significant unions on the property are SPAF (representing approximately 300 pilots) and Alter (representing about 50). Unaffiliated and affiliated pilots can vote for collective labor agreements, and pilots can vote across union lines for the corporate board seat reserved for the pilot representative. As an example, this summer an SPAF member was elected to be the pilot’s representative to the corporate board for the current term. And if you think that is complicated, then hang on.