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US Airways pilots protest pace of contract talks

The Charlotte-based US Airline Pilots Association, upset about pilots’ pay, plans to picket at Philadelphia International Airport at 11:15 a.m. today to bring attention to what it calls efforts by US Airways to delay contract negotiations.

Phoenix-based US Airways’ largest hub is in Charlotte.

Despite US Airways reporting the second-highest profit in its history last year, its pilots are the lowest-compensated pilots among major airlines, the association said.

“Our pilots made significant personal and financial sacrifices in our salaries, pensions and benefits to help US Airways during its times of need over the past decade,” said Mike Cleary, the association’s president. “Our reward for investing in this airline and posting leading performance numbers is to remain the lowest-compensated pilots among our peers.”

Pilots also picketed in September at Philadelphia International Airport.

The association represents the more than 5,000 pilots who fly for US Airways.

Todd Lehmacher, US Airways spokesman, said contract negotiations are ongoing and being overseen by a national mediation board.

“We’re looking forward to a resolution,” he said. ”It’s our strong desire to see our pilots achieve a joint contract with our company.”

The suggestion by the pilots that US Airways is stalling negotiations is not true, he said, adding that the pilots cannot agree among themselves on a seniority system since US Airways and America West merged in 2005.

“So it’s wrong to suggest that we’re delaying the contract negotiations,” he said.

When asked whether US Airways pilots are the lowest paid, he said: ”I can’t answer that. I honestly don’t know.”

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