STL: you're taking a very narrow view of perdiems. I agree....REQUIRED per diems are not pay. But when you are working a day job, most people bring food from home, so it is like pay. Like I said, when I overnight, I don't consider per diems part of pay...and in the case of Carson, if you do overnight, you get higher per diem for that day. Some operators structure their pay with a portion of it labeled as per diems, because it is better for everyone...it's a tax deduction for the company, it's tax free for the employee...everyone wins. It's still compensation. Step back and look at the big picture....in some cases, per diems are just straight pay with a different name.
Narrow view? I don't think so. I've seen about every pay/per diem structure out there, and Per Diems should never be counted in lieu of pay. I've been on the Management side of it too, I know how the structure works. They are there to feed yourself, which as you point out, you do anyway - grocery store/restaurant, it's your choice.
Justifying poor pay with Per Diems is narrow, short sighted, and detrimental to our industry. Per Diems are OFTEN paid for by the client IN ADDITION to the agreed upon rate for the contracted machine, these Per Diems are also OFTEN paid to the company based on Gov't standards, which the company then pares down and passes along to the Crews at a reduced rate. They make money off YOUR Per Diems. It happens ALL the time.
When I fly North of 60, I'm on $104/day, $60/day down south, do I pocket a fair amount of that? Yes. Is it even mentioned when negotiating my pay structure? NO WAY.
When will pilots figure out that wages in Canada are generally shit, and that all these companies operating across the county ARE making money - often, lots of it? Stand up for yourselves for God's sake, ask for wages that you can live on, support a family on, and reflect your relative responsibility or skills.
Narrow? I don't think so, informed, yes.