Sunday, May 20, 2012

contract negotiations

I mentioned earlier that Steve and I took the kids to the lake the other weekend.

After the kids were in bed that night, Steve and I went to the back of the boat, sat under the stars, and chatted while drinking a couple beers.  As I have mention numerous times, Steve normally doesn't talk work much.  I have also mention that Steve will start talking after a couple drinks.  So, after a couple beers Steve started talking work...and work talk lately = contract talk.

Looking back, I guess he has been on his webboards lately. I have to admit - I actually respect those webboards.  Yes there is gossip and rumors on those things.  But, there is also knowledge and good use.  Sure, sometimes it annoys the shit out of me that he can't pull his face from the freakin' smart phone...hello!  engage with our family activity! "Joanna, but it is a union email." ...but I respect that there are real contact talks going on now and these boards are a source of being in-the-know.

So that night, Steve mentioned something about hopefully having a contract signed in the next couple of months.  This was news to me.  I was actually sort of shocked by this.  When you wait for something so long, you never really think it is going to happen.

"Seriously, Steve?  Tell me what is going on" I asked.

"Are you sure?"  Steve responded...knowing very well it is a loaded topic.


"Well, don't give me ALL the details.  Just give me the broad stroke ideas"  I told him.

...and then he started in... "blah blah blah, MEC.  Blah blah blah, June 15th.  Blah blah blah, election year.  Blah blah blah, strike."  Really, this is what my brain retained from the conversation.  The "broad stroke ideas" went on for a good 10 minutes or so.  My brain can only comprehend so much. 

Am I being insensitive?  No, I don't think so.  Am I being unsupportive?  Again, no, I don't think so.  I have actually been known to take the kids to the airport while Steve is doing informational picketing...honking like mad when I drive past the line of pilots outside the terminal in show of support, and to teach the kids a thing about Steve's job.  All the while, Steve will use my arrival to make some crass remark to the pilot standing next to him.  I am really just trying to be the good pilot wife.  If Steve wants/needs to talk to me about something, he will engage me and I will be a support in any way I can.  I am making the conscious effort to not bother Steve about these talks.  At this point, I get the broad stroke of what is going on, and that is all I need.  Steve has not expressed that he is upset with my lack of interest, so I think we are both satisfied with our arrangement.

A lot of the reason I keep out of it is, well...I didn't even know what a freakin' MEC was!  Is it an airport code?  Why, yes it is Joanna.  But, not in this case.  Try again!  Stupid acronyms!  As if I am supposed to work outside the home, raise two kids, keep house, volunteer...and memorize all these damn acronyms! 

There is a lot that goes into contract negotiations.  Hell, I don't even totally get the scope thing that is such an issue right now.  Again, I get the broad stroke idea, but nothing really more than that.  I think I would just piss Steve off by asking question after question.

But, when does this backfire on me?  It backfires when I hear things in the news about your husband's airline being unsafe.  Really?!  That makes me feel REALLY good. But, if I knew more than maybe I would know better then to listen to the news. 

It also backfires when the strike fear creeps up. I don't know all the steps of striking.  In my head, I think this could be an overnight thing.  If I knew more, then maybe I wouldn't have a fear?  Ah, but Steve knows it all and still has the fear.  So, the pilots strike and then what? 

I know we are not the only pilot family out there that has a plan B.  Ours is that I would go back to work full-time, if my boss would have me back full-time, and the kids would be pulled from daycare.  We could trim all the fat - no cable, no $100+ target shopping trips, ect. If push came to shove then Steve would contact his old corporate boss to see if he could fly for him...or maybe flight instruct? I know we are not the only pilot family out there that could afford more house, but choose not to for fear of strike.  I also know we are not the only ones that choose 5 year car loans, but pay them off in 4 years, because we want the option of having lower monthly payments in the event of a strike.  Hell, don't get ahead of yourself Joanna: remember, Steve won't even get a car until a contract is signedThis is the way pilots think.

In the meantime, I will just try to keep any negative thoughts out of my mind.  I will try my best at staying the optimistic pilot wife, as best I can.  I will try to stay supportive of Steve's needs during this contract negotiating time.  I don't know what he is going through since there is just so much that gets lost in the translation when bringing things home.  I am not a pilot.  I don't fly the line.  I don't work for a huge company.  I am not the breadwinner for our family.  I don't know these stresses.  I will try to keep our home a happy place/a supportive place/a place that is safe from worry and stress.

You know, ever since I started volunteering at the local Children's Hospital, my outlook on life has changed.  While volunteering one day I was called in for a "patient sit."  I held a 6-month-old cancer patient in my arms while she slept.  She was a foster child.  She had no family there to comfort her.  The nurses called me up to help since she was fussy all day and they thought that she just needed to be held and rocked.  I picked her up and she was asleep in my arms within seconds.  I rocked this child in my arms for 1 hour and 15 minutes while she slept.  She slept soundly.  She was comfortable in my arms.  She had an IV in her head, so I had to make sure I held her in the right position.  I stared at this little girl as if she were my own. The whole time I was thinking "sleep little girl.  Sleep because this is when your body heels.  And your little body needs to heel and get better."  This sweet, little, precious girl was already fighting such a big fight...at 6 months old. When you see something like this, you think about what really matters in life.

I am adding this story because I want to demonstrate that there is more to life than money.  And I am not talking about pilots here...no pilot is getting rich from flying the line.  I am also talking about respect and compassion.  I wish my husband was more than employee #12345 and his financial effects on the bottom line.  I wish he was looked at as a real person with a real family.  The company's decisions affect me and my children.  We are real people. 

I wish this pilot group is able to negotiate what is right for this group of hardworking pilots.  These men and women are good people who do a good job.  These pilots should have work rules that reflect their professionalism and expertise.   These pilots are real people who have real lives, who deserve a real contract that reflect their value to the company.  

8 comments:

  1. Ugh....my husband's company is currently not-so-nice negotiations. And we are buying a house...a house we can afford on one income if needed. We most definitely have a plan B and are thankful we even have a plan B! Thank you for being a Children's Hospital volunteer. I can't imagine how scary that would be for a child, especially without any family.

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    1. good luck with the house buying! What an exciting time!

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  2. Wow that is scary stuff. That's the problem with that industry, you just never know when that job will be gone.

    Also how wonderful you volunteer at the Children's Hospital. That must be very hard to see all those sick children and it takes a very special person to be able to do that. :)

    http://2bestfriendschubbyroadtoskinny.blogspot.com/

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    1. It is hard to see the kids. I have had tears in my eyes plenty of times...and I try my best at holding them back so I don't look like a total fool. I hope I never become numb to what I see. I think it keeps me grounded on what is really important in life. And it makes me feel like I am making a difference, even if it is a little difference in one little life.

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  3. It's a tumultuous industry, for sure. But then...what industry isn't? I know all the ups and downs and unknowns are rough, and you're absolutely right that he's a number on a list to some decision maker...not a person. Sadly, that's not unique to his industry or his company. I recently left my job because being 1 out of 350,000 just wasn't working for me. I think we all want to believe that we mean something to our employers, but in the end (particularly with large, public companies) we don't mean squat. As soon as we recognize that, things become a lot easier. Happily, I found a small firm (less than 50 people) where I really am valued every day. I can't see myself ever going back to the big giant company world again.

    Good luck with everything. I hope it all works out for them. It sure will be nice when this thing is FINALLY settled. I'll probably spit out my coffee when I read the news!

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    1. I, too, work for a small company. I do feel valued, and I like that. Although, I also know that I am replaceable, so I don't think too highly of myself :) I don't think I could ever work for a big company. And that is where it is hard for me to conceptualize what it must be like for Steve. It is hard for me to think that an employee is just a number.

      When I read the news that everything is settled, I won't be spitting out coffee...I will be dancing for joy! And buying a new car ;)

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  4. BTW...new site design...much better. The other was really hard to read!

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    1. Thanks. KISS...keep it simple stupid. The simple site is better.

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