NetJets, pilots resume negotiations

 - October 9, 2006, 10:43 AM

It appears that the informational picketing by NetJets pilots, who are represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 1108, is having the desired effect of putting pressure on company management to hammer out a new contract with the pilot workforce. On May 27 the pilots conducted simultaneous informational picketing sessions at Teterboro Airport, N.J., and West Palm Beach Airport, Fla. Early last month they picketed at the Las Vegas and Philadelphia Airports.

In late May a National Mediation Board (NMB) mediator put the talks between the two parties on an indefinite hold due to a disagreement over NetJets’ financial statements–essentially how much and what should be made available to the pilots. NetJets, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, includes NetJets Aviation, NetJets International, aircraft management and charter arm Executive Jet Management, NetJets Europe, NetJets Middle East and NetJets Large Aircraft Company.

According to the union, management wants to provide only details on the U.S. fractional operations minus NetJets International, a non-union sister company that operates Gulfstreams. The pilot group argues that it should be allowed to view financial records from other NetJets subsidiaries, specifically NetJets Europe since several Berkshire annual reports said that the U.S. fractional operation is subsidizing growth of the European fractional operation.

Largely due to pressure from the informational picketing, the parties have agreed to continue bargaining sessions outside scheduled NMB-mediated sessions.

Management and pilots also agreed to target 10 meeting days a month, with the first four-day session taking place at press time. According to an IBT Local 1108 spokeswoman, the union negotiating committee has entered into an additional 120-day agreement to allow union negotiators time to continue to focus on reaching an agreement on five of the remaining seven open sections: seniority, crew basing, scheduling, general conditions and insurance.

Once they reach a tentative agreement on the open sections, recognition and wages then will be put on the agenda. NetJets declined to comment on the situation.