Chautauqua pilots vote on strike option

 - July 30, 2008, 9:14 AM

Republic Airways CEO Bryan Bedford’s characterization of the Chautauqua Airlines pilots’ vote in favor of US Airways’ “Jets for Jobs” arrangement as “a day late and a dollar short” prompted Teamsters Local 747 representatives to mail strike ballots to the 700-strong pilot group. The union planned to count the ballots on June 20.

Bedford made the statement in response to a question posed by AIN about the company’s plans to negotiate with the pilots over the formation of a new nonunion subsidiary, Louisville, Ky.-based Republic Airlines. Bedford instituted plans for the so-called “alter ego” of Chautauqua after the pilots narrowly rejected the Jets-for-Jobs provision last June. In hopes of convincing Bedford to cancel his plans for the nonunionized subsidiary, the pilots accepted the Jets-for-Jobs protocol in a second vote in late April, but to no avail. Charging Republic Airways with violating the transfer-of-aircraft provision in Chautauqua’s scope clause, the Teamsters filed a grievance over the matter.

According to the Teamsters, Bedford’s statement contradicted information and proposals made by the company’s negotiating team. The union also charges the parent company with intentionally expediting the formation of Republic Airlines in an attempt to frustrate the bargaining process. Meanwhile, according to union leaders, Republic Airways’ primary investment group, Wexford Capital, has begun negotiations with another of its subsidiaries, Shuttle America, for “substandard” pay rates to fly regional jets for US Airways under the Jets-for-Jobs protocol.