(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the Teamsters Airline Division and Teamsters Local 284 demanded today that NetJets, a Columbus, Ohio-based luxury air carrier owned by Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK.A and BRK.B) halt a campaign of unwarranted retaliation against their flight dispatchers for choosing union representation.
After years of union-busting tactics and anti-union rhetoric, dispatchers voted in favor of Teamster representation and the Teamsters were certified by the National Mediation Board as the union representing the dispatchers in September 2011. NetJets has now shifted its anti-worker agenda to the bargaining table. Company negotiators are demanding the right to replace human flight dispatchers with automation and software programs. Human flight dispatchers are essential to the safety of the carrier’s operations.
NetJets waged an aggressive anti-union campaign over social media. NetJets employees were threatened with termination. Workers who lost jobs at other companies were mocked and ridiculed. The rhetoric used by Warren Buffett’s NetJets was extreme; America’s unions were portrayed as roaches with leaders who steal money from children.
“NetJets has treated hardworking, professional flight dispatchers with contempt from the very beginning,” said Capt. David Bourne, Director of the Teamsters Airline Division. “The recent threat to eliminate flight dispatcher jobs is just more of the same from this company that refuses to listen to and respect the voices of its workforce. We are supporting these men and women in their effort to protect good jobs and the safety of flight operations.”
Contract negotiations between the company and the union resume on March 16. The parties remain far apart on job security, wages, insurance and benefits. The union plans to take a strike authorization vote in April if negotiations are not successfully concluded this month.
“NetJets couldn’t break the will of the flight dispatchers in the union election and they won’t succeed in doing it at the bargaining table either,” said Paul Suffoletto, President of Teamsters Local 284 in Columbus, Ohio. “Our fight to protect flight dispatcher jobs is good for our members’ families, pilots, flight attendants and passengers. We believe that NetJets’ customers prefer a human dispatcher to a software program when it comes to guaranteeing the safety of their flights.”
“Whether it’s implementing labor-saving technology to displace dispatchers or using lower cost maintenance subcontractors, NetJets’ ‘race to the bottom’ mentality is a threat to middle class jobs and the viability of the company itself,” said Paul Alves, Teamsters Airline Division Representative. “Until the management of the company changes course, the NetJets’ brand will continue to be synonymous with labor unrest.”
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.