By Nicole Montesano • Staff Writer • 

Pilots win big judgment against Evergreen

In November, the company signed two “confessions of judgment,” one covering the period from March 1, 2010, through Feb. 28, 2011, the other the period from March 1, 2011, through Feb. 29, 2012. It agreed to cover the first obligation by May 15 and the second by Aug. 15.

When it failed to make any payments on the first by May 15, the association went to court to seek a formal judgment for the amount owed for that year. Evergreen did not mount a defense, leading Judge John Collins to enter a default judgment on the books on May 30.

Dean Kidd, a retired pilot who worked for Evergreen for 23 years, said the company personally owes him more than $10,000. He said it signed the confessions in order to avoid having to participate in a grievance hearing sought by the union.

Kidd said he is bitter about the pension defaults, because he believes Evergreen owner and founder Del Smith is funneling money away from the airline to fund the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum as a legacy. “I feel hurt,” he said.

Kidd said Evergreen never paid its pilots a wage comparable to those of other carriers of similar size. But in the old days, he said, there was a mystique about working for Evergreen that helped compensate.

“It was a company looked upon within the pilots group as being a premier airline, one you felt proud to come to work for,” Kidd said. “It seemed like something happened after Michael King Smith (Del Smith’s son) was killed in the accident. Something happened with Mr. Smith after that, and he started building his legacy.”

The Evergreen companies have struggled in recent times. They have been the target of a series of lawsuits from vendors about not getting paid.

Several former employees have also filed suits, alleging wrongful termination. Some have complained about poorly or improperly maintained equipment, leading to safety violations.

Other employees have filed complaints with the state over delayed paychecks. And at one point, McMinnville Water & Light shut off power for non-payment.

Earlier this year, Evergreen sold its helicopter subsidiary to Erickson Air-Crane for a quarter of a billion dollars. Smith said money would go toward paying off debt and expanding the company’s air cargo division.

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