Contract Brings Jet Operations to Airline
Teamster pilots with Horizon Air who are members of Local 1224 in Wilmington, Ohio, voted by a 2-1 margin to ratify a collective bargaining agreement that will bring jet flying back to the airline. There are approximately 576 Teamster pilots at Horizon Air.
The agreement will provide for pay increases throughout the life of the agreement and provides for the implementation of a preferential bid system (PBS) with language that is the best in the regional industry and on par with that at major airlines.
The vote to ratify the tentative agreement happened shortly after Horizon’s parent company, Alaska Air Group, said it expects to place an order for 30 large regional jets in the first quarter of 2016. The fleet will transition from an all-turboprop to a mixed jet/turboprop fleet.
On February 8, Alaska Air Group announced that they will be purchasing regional jets and are in talks with Bombardier (CRJ-900) and Embraer (E-175). The company has not placed an order with either company but expects to announce their decision shortly. The jets are expected to enter service in the first quarter of 2017 and will vastly expand regional service for the airline, operated by Horizon Air.
According to the International Air Transport Association, the airline industry is expected to service over 3.8 billion passengers in 2017, the result of demand for the industry growing by over 30 percent in the past five years. These will be a boon for regional carriers like Horizon, who will likely need to expand its workforce to keep up with passenger demand. Thanks to the new agreement, the Teamsters now have access to that growing work.
“It was really important to get the jet work back into the contract,” said Capt. John Owens, a nine-year pilot at Horizon Air. “This work will allow the union to grow and flourish for years to come as the industry expands.”
Owens and other pilots at Horizon Air are also pleased with the inclusion of language that clarifies work rules and hours for reserve pilots, a major improvement in work conditions.
“The new rules surrounding reserve pilots and their hours will mean a major increase in my quality of life,” Owens said. “These rules came about because of the strength the Teamsters displayed in negotiations. I was really pleased and impressed at how the union representatives handled themselves and our business in negotiations. They came in at a point where morale was quite low. Layoffs were a distinct possibility. The company had agreed to a preliminary agreement, but then pulled the rug out from underneath us at the last minute and renounced their end of the bargain.”
Negotiating Committee Works Together to Achieve Goals
Owens and other pilots on the Horizon Executive Council Negotiating Committee worked extensively with Teamster representatives, who brought lots of positive energy to the negotiating table. This marked a change in momentum for the negotiations, a change that resulted in the agreement and ratification of an eight-year agreement.
“This contract saved jobs and guaranteed Teamsters long-term employment,” Owens said. “I’m quite grateful that I will continue to work under a Teamster contract for the next eight years and that I’ve got the strength of the union behind me.”
The contract provides wage increases across the board for the life of the agreement. To Teamsters like Brian P. Miller, a check airman at Horizon and a captain since 2012, a raise goes a long way for his family.
“The ratified contract gives me and my family stability in what would’ve been a potentially economically rocky future without steady employment,” Miller said. “This contract is a fantastic investment for regional airliners. This new agreement, coupled with the jet announcement, will allow younger pilots to come to Horizon Air for a lengthy, satisfying career.”
“This wouldn’t have been possible without the unity that the committee displayed during negotiations. The committee handled negotiations exceptionally and they had the full support of the bargaining unit,” Miller said. “I’m happy that I’m going back to work under the new agreement, and I’m even happier that I’m able to help support my family with my union job.”
“I want to commend Local 1224 and the negotiating committee for their hard work at the table that led to this strong agreement. We look forward to continuing to work together as a team to ensure that all pilots at Horizon Air are represented to the fullest,” said Capt. David Bourne, Director of the Teamsters Airline Division.
“The Horizon pilots have been in negotiations with the company to bring jet flying back to Horizon Air for some time,” said Daniel C. Wells, President of Local 1224. “It has been the union’s position that jet flying is a good business decision for Horizon Air and enables the company to offer a better product to its customers. We are happy that we were able to work with the company to find solutions for growth that meet the needs of the pilots and the company alike.”