Saturday, June 02, 2001

Taft asks for help on Comair




The Associated Press

        HEBRON — Ohio Gov. Bob Taft has asked U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta for help ending the two-month strike by Comair pilots.

        In a telephone call Friday, Mr. Taft urged Mr. Mineta to take a leadership role in getting both sides back to negotiations.

        “The Comair strike is having an adverse effect on southwest Ohio, and it is time to bring both parties to the table to end the strike as quickly as possible,” Mr. Taft said in a statement. “The strike has caused layoffs, disrupted flight schedules and hurt regional commerce.”

        Comair, based at the Cincinnati/ Northern Kentucky International Airport, has been shut down since pilots went on strike March 26.

        There has been no contact between the company and the Comair branch of the Air Line Pilots Association since May 12, when the pilots overwhelmingly rejected a proposed settlement crafted by the National Mediation Board.

        Spokesmen for Comair's approximately 1,350 pilots said the board's proposal fell short of the union's demands for a company-paid retirement program, higher salaries, shorter on-duty shifts, and longer rest between work shifts.

        Earlier this week, leaders of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce said they were asking their members to write members of Congress and President Bush urging Mr. Mineta's involvement in the strike.

        Mr. Taft said Friday that Mr. Mineta was concerned about the strike's economic impact. He also said Mr. Mineta indicated that he did intend to get involved, said the governor's spokesman, Kevin Kellems.

        There was no answer Friday night to calls to the secretary's office in Washington for comment. Comair officials did not return calls seeking comment.

        Union spokesman Max Roberts said the union is willing to listen to anything Mr. Mineta had to say.

       



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