Netjets pilots choose 'strong' voice

 - January 31, 2007, 4:46 AM

On December 23 NetJets pilots overwhelmingly elected the five-member master executive council (MEC) slate known as Strong Union. Eighty-nine percent of the more than 1,900-strong unionized fractional pilot workforce supported the candidates and delivered a vote of no confidence to the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 284. The new MEC members–Jim Brady, Tim Nelson, Bill Olsen, Greg Rountree and Amy Vidovich–have also formed the Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots (ASAP), a nonprofit organization based in Columbus, Ohio. They intend to disaffiliate from Teamsters Local 284 and form a new Teamsters local dedicated solely to the needs of NetJets pilots.

The new MEC’s first priority is to resume collective bargaining on behalf of the pilots. Negotiations are currently scheduled to reopen this month in Los Angeles. The current contract between NetJets and the pilots became amendable on October 2001, and the incoming leadership team believes that the Teamsters have made little substantive progress in the last three years. MEC president Bill Olsen said, “The current contract’s six-year-old wage scale is just about half of current market wages. We will do what it takes for our pilots to receive a salary scale comparable to that of pilots flying fewer hours in the same jets at other companies.”

The outgoing MEC endorsed a tentative agreement in August, but 82 percent of the membership rejected it in October.