Air Transport World

E&M employe hiring strong, pay levels steady; hiring for expansion and attrition replacement seen continuing, but the possibility of a mechanic shortage is disputed. (engineering and maintenance labor forces)

E&M employe hiring strong, pay levels steady Engineering and maintenance labor forces in the U.S., buffeted by economic and competitive pressures common to all airline labor groups, on average have experienced little or no pay advancement in the past two years. This standstill has coincided with a surge of hirings throughout the industry.

The combination of increasing retirements from the aging mechanic work force and continued hiring for expansion presents a scenario similar to that causing a growing shortage of qualified pilots. There are differences of opinion, however, whether airlines will suffer as a result of a similar lack of experienced mechanics.

According to industry statistics and an ATW survey, the average airline maintenance and engineering pay now is about 44% greater than it was five years ago. However, the overall pay advance for mechanics in 1984 was just 1%, followed by a 2% rise in 1985. Increase in 1980-81 was 10%, dropping slightly to 9% in 1981-82 and dipping to 6% in 1982-83.

This low average increase can be laid to two factors. First is the general acceptance of the two-tier pay package. Second is the growth of new entrant and reorganizing carriers--Continental and Braniff. The lower wages paid to this increasing body of workers pulls the averages down, despite wage advancement for the pre-two-tier labor group.

The two-tier wage package, considered a radical and unique agreement when pioneered in 1983 by American Airlines, now is the industry standard for pre-deregulation majors and nationals. All majors save Continental have a two-tier program in place. …

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