Headline News

Airline Division News, Week Ending April 5, 2015


WSJ Reporting Error Leads to Clarification by Airline Division Director

Whether it was poor fact checking or a badly timed April Fool’s Day joke may never be known, but an April 1st  report by the Wall Street Journal questioning the legal right of Allegiant pilots to strike the troubled carrier on April 2nd  brought a swift response from Division Director Captain David Bourne.

In the article about the intended strike over the continued violation of ‘’status quo’’ by Allegiant management, the paper reported that a spokeswoman for the NMB did not believe the pilots had the legal right to strike the airline outside of a 30 day cooling off period.

Writing in a letter to the pilots, Director Bourne was blunt when he said; “The NMB responded to me that its spokesperson had been misquoted.  The NMB also stated that because our strike is in response to Allegiant’s status quo violations there is no issue for the NMB about the legality of a Railway Labor Act Section 6 strike which is the subject of the misquote. In plain English, the NMB has no issue or problem with our interpretation of your right to strike for status quo violations which is separate and apart from a strike regarding Section 6 of the Railway Labor Act.”

While the Federal Court did issue a temporary injunction stopping the strike last week, the case will now be heard in several days by the same judge who found Allegiant Air in violation of the status quo provisions and ordered them to correct the violations over six months ago. Should the court rule in the unions favor over the ability to strike over status quo violations, the airline could be facing two separate and distinctive strikes in the coming weeks, one for violation of the status quo and a separate one if the NMB agrees with the union about the refusal of management to bargain on good faith over the past two and a half years and issues a Proffer of Arbitration to the parties. At that point, should either side refuse the offer, the window opens on the 30 day cooling off period that would lead to a strike if a comprehensive collective bargaining agreement is not reached.

The letter may be read in its entirety here: https://teamster.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/bourneltr_allegiant_nmb.pdf


Division Rep Fisher Invited to Speak at Embry Riddle

On Wednesday April 1st Airline Division Representative Bob Fisher was invited to speak with a class of management students at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. Assistant Professor Mitch Geraci extended the invitation over his concerns with the perceptions his class had formed about unions. Since Geraci previously worked in the industry he felt his class should hear from labor to get a better understanding of how the practical relationship worked. This part of Geraci’s class is designed to separate theory from practice.

Fisher gave a brief presentation of his history in the industry as well as the purpose of unions. The class was then opened to a question and answer session. A majority of the class was concerned that unions only protect people that don’t work or continually get in trouble. Fisher explained that it is true that many resources are spent defending the rights of those deemed by management as lazy or unproductive, but that there are two very important reasons why this happens. Fisher explained that a series of Supreme Court decisions on the Rails in the 1940’s established that unions have a duty of fair representation which requires that unions must challenge and defend the actions of management where investigation reveals that mistakes were made in the company’s case, and second if these actions are not taken there is an erosion of just cause rights for the whole unit. Many of the class were unaware of the above and a good discussion was held on the matter.

During the course of the discussion one of the students said that he believed that the time for unions had passed since regulations now governed how the industry operates. Fisher then explained that this idea; that unions have outlived their usefulness, has been around since the late 1890’s. Fisher further explained that without unions there would be erosion in the wages and working conditions in the industry. One of the big reasons for this is that unions continue to lobby for regulations to further enhance safety within aviation and without that voice from labor; government would only hear one side of the story.

The TAMC was discussed as one of the ways unions are looking proactively at industry concerns. It was explained that the establishment of this new non-profit, with the idea of recruitment and retention of mechanics into the industry, would be a benefit to both labor and management. There were questions and concerns expressed about the pending shortage of mechanics and how this could be a useful tool to fix the problem.

Some of the students had just gone through a class on the Railway Labor Act and there was a lengthy discussion of how the Act actually works in the airlines. There were questions of how the process of negotiations works, the role of the mediator, strikes and Presidential Emergency Boards.

At the end of the class Geraci invited Fisher to return for future classes. Fisher committed that as the schedule permits this partnership will continue. “This was an excellent forum to discuss how labor and management function in the real world,” said Fisher. “The students were engaged and asked excellent questions. I hope the students enjoyed this as much as I did and I look forward to doing it again,” he further stated, concluding that “I wish to thank the faculty for making me feel at home during the visit, and most especially to Mitch Geraci for extending the invitation.”


NetJets Technicians, Controllers and Related Negotiations Update

This past week, the union Negotiating Committee met in direct negotiations with the Company met with company, making proposals and counter proposals on Article 26. Local 284 Principal Officer Paul Suffuletto and IBT International Representatives Captain Paul Alves and Chris Moore had a “status” discussion with NetJets VP for Labor Relations Mike Maratto and Jim Johnson. The conversation was frank, transparent and productive as the parties discussed possible paths for making headway regarding the challenges of successfully going forward with negotiations including a single contract that will bring MCC into the current MX agreement with carve outs for their specific Classification.  The negotiating committee continued to prepare proposals throughout the week with a considerable amount of time dedicated to Article 31, Seniority.


Airline Industry News


Governmental and Regulatory

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said Thursday he is confident that U.S. airline pilots are properly screened. “I can say with confidence that I think the U.S. sets the gold standard for aviation safety in the world,” Foxx said.


Airlines, Industry and Labor

Allegiant CEO Maurice Gallagher, long an outspoken opponent of airline unionization, is living his worst dream: his pilots are represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

Delta Air Lines is the first U.S. carrier to accept Alipay, an electronic payment system with 300 million registered users in China. “This exciting new partnership is one of many Delta initiatives to build the most Chinese-friendly U.S. airline,” said Vinay Dube, Delta’s senior vice president-Asia Pacific.

Airlines for America said U.S. airlines conduct rigorous testing on pilots to determine their mental and physical health. “All airlines can and do conduct fitness-for-duty testing on pilots if warranted,” A4A said. “As evidenced by our safety record, the U.S. airline industry remains the largest and safest aviation system in the world as a result of the ongoing and strong collaboration among airlines, airline employees, manufacturers and government.”

American Airlines said it plans to revamp its headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas, rather than move to another location. The airline is building a new integrated operations center on its 1.4 million-square-foot campus to house additional employees relocating to Fort Worth.