Alaska Airlines Executives Unusual Interaction With Picketing Pilots – One Mile at a Time

While it’s nice to see an airline executive acknowledge disgruntled employees, I find this interaction to be rather unusual.

Alaska Airlines COO vs. picketing pilots

The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) representing Alaska Airlines pilots posted an interesting video to YouTube, involving the Seattle-based carrier’s Chief Operating Officer, Constance Von Muehlen. The video was filmed on February 3, 2022, when Von Muehlen was speaking at an event in New York City.

Alaska Airlines pilots have been trying to negotiate contract improvements for three years, but haven’t gotten anywhere. So the pilots decided to show up at the event and picket.

In the nearly two minute video posted online, you can see Von Muehlen slowly walk past all the picketing pilots, and look at them one by one, without saying a word. The pilots are holding signs that include the following:

  • “Break The Stall, Contract Now”
  • “Do The Right Thing, Value Your Pilots”
  • “We Do Our Job, Now Do Yours, Contract Now”

You can watch the video for yourself below.

Was this respectful or intimidating?

It’s not often you see interactions like this between airline management and employees. I think it’s worth acknowledging the professionalism of the pilots, as they hold their signs but remain respectful.

What exactly was Von Muehlen trying to accomplish here?

  • While I doubt this was the intention, it almost comes across as if she was trying to intimidate pilots, walking up really close to them and staring them down
  • That probably wasn’t the intent, since that wouldn’t be great for labor relations; I suspect her intent was to show respect and acknowledge the pilots
  • I would imagine the union didn’t view her actions as being particularly respectful, or else ALPA likely wouldn’t have posted this video of how she interacted with pilots

I get these situations are complicated, and it’s nice that she at least acknowledged their presence, which a lot of other airline executives probably wouldn’t do. It just seems like perhaps saying something like “I appreciate what you all do and hear your frustration,” or something, would have accomplished more than this?

Bottom line

Alaska Airlines COO Constance Von Muehlen was speaking at an event in New York City, and pilots decided to picket, given that they’ve been waiting a few years on a new contract. Merits to the picketing aside, Von Muehlen’s “acknowledgement” of these pilots is one of the more unusual ways I’ve seen an airline executive interact with employees.

What do you make of Von Muehlen’s interaction with Alaska Airlines pilots?

(Tip of the hat to Live and Let’s Fly)

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