October 11, 2023
Dear AMFA-SCA Members:
After a year of unproductive negotiations with Sun Country Airlines (Sun Country), the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA) has requested that the National Mediation Board (NMB) appoint a federal mediator to oversee the bargaining process.
When these negotiations began, we anticipated both parties would reach a tentative agreement within a reasonable timeframe, especially considering the mass exodus of AMT and related workgroups Sun Country was experiencing, due in part, to its industry lacking compensation. Management has openly recognized the serious issues it has hiring and retaining skilled and experienced aircraft technicians, maintenance controllers, ground support technicians, planners, and technical analysts. Understaffing aircraft maintenance lines has become chronic. Sun Country continues to hire part-time employees as a stop-gap measure and tries to use unlicensed Aircraft Support Technicians (AST) to perform AMT-licensed safety-sensitive aircraft maintenance to offset their self-inflicted staffing issues.
With the impending shortage of experienced AMTs throughout the industry and specifically at Sun Country, AMFA believes our members deserve a contract that provides industry-standard compensation and addresses the need for full staffing and safe working conditions. That can only be achieved if Sun Country invests in its workforce as opposed to buying back its own stock.
Sun Country Record Revenue
On August 03, 2023, Sun Country reported second quarter 2023 revenue of $261 million, the highest second quarter on record ever. As explained by Jude Bricker, Chief Executive Officer of Sun Country, “Sun Country had a historically strong second quarter, in what is typically a seasonally weaker quarter for us … In addition to our excellent performance, our board of directors has authorized an additional $30 million for repurchases of Sun Country shares.” Sun Country chose to repurchase 416,751 shares at an average price of $17.82 during the second quarter and an additional $30 million of buyback authority which brought the current repurchase authorization to $32.8 million.
Sun Country Executive Greed at Your Expense
Sun Country chose to line its executives’ pockets to maximize short-term profit rather than address the aviation safety implications arising from the loss of skilled maintenance technicians. At the same time Sun Country was boasting about its record revenue and authorizing millions of dollars to buy back its own shares, it had the audacity to offer a pitiful half of one percent (0.5%) increase in hourly pay for the most senior and experienced AMTs. For other skilled AMTs and maintenance support professionals, Sun Country shockingly proposed a pay freeze. This is what corporate greed looks like, and it would appear Sun Country’s executives’ greed knows no bounds.
The Company’s comprehensive proposal would limit your ability to earn, and the sub-standard wage increases offered would fall woefully short of even tracking inflation and medical premium increases. As if the proposal of pay freezes and half of one percent (0.5%) compensation increases were not insulting enough, Sun Country also proposed language that would allow it to outsource all of your current and customary work. In addition to the woeful compensation proposal and overreaching scope language, the parties continue to remain apart on numerous articles, including, for example, retirement, insurance, overtime, hours of service, and many others. This is why AMFA decided the time was now to ask the National Mediation Board for assistance in helping the Company to engage in realistic and meaningful dialogue at the bargaining table. AMFA believes that under National Mediation Board (NMB) oversight, Sun Country would never have stooped to this type of gamesmanship at the negotiating table.
The Need for a Federal Mediator to Oversee Bargaining with Sun Country
After AMFA’s Negotiating Committee presented its comprehensive proposal, the Company, despite having a month with which to prepare, arrived at the next session without a comprehensive response. Instead, during that session, the Company presented the same three individual articles it wanted to present at the prior session. The Company then requested to cancel the next session to allow its finance department to better understand the costing of AMFA’s comprehensive proposal. AMFA’s economist spent numerous hours educating Sun Country on how the package should be correctly costed and even traveled to Minneapolis to assist Sun Country’s finance team in this endeavor. We were hopeful once Sun Country understood how to properly value AMFA’s proposal and its own operation, that it would be prepared to offer you the compensation package your hard work has earned. Unfortunately, while Sun Country did show up in September with a comprehensive proposal, that proposal was, in short, a slap in all our faces.
In our opinion, Sun Country appears disinterested in bargaining efficiently, and instead, seeks delay to avoid agreeing upon a contract that rewards your hard work and continued dedication to the Company. Sun Country’s fleet generates the Company’s revenue, and you are the workforce that ensures those aircraft continue to operate safely and efficiently so that record revenue continues. Yet, instead of recognizing your invaluable contribution, Sun Country has, instead, chosen greed. Your Negotiating Committee has repeatedly made its displeasure known on your behalf over these negotiating tactics. Therefore, we felt it was time that Sun Country’s bargaining conduct be overseen by the watchful eyes of a federal mediator assigned by the NMB.
It is essential to stay informed as we go through the mediation process and not let rumors be your source of information. Therefore, for a comprehensive review of the technical aspects of the mediation process, please visit the National Mediation Board’s website, where you will be able to thoroughly research the airline collective bargaining process, including mediation. In addition, if you have questions, do not hesitate to contact any member of your Negotiating Committee for answers or clarification.
We ask that now, more than ever, you stay engaged and remain informed. Unfortunately, the current version of Sun Country views you only as a cost and are blinded by the executives’ directive to cut costs – by any means necessary. It is only with the utmost solidarity, which this group has demonstrated repeatedly, that we will be able to achieve a contract that you deserve during this time of your Company’s prosperity.
AMFA-SCA Negotiating Committee