Teamsters and Flexjet/Flight Options Clash Over Pilot Seniority

 - March 9, 2016, 10:28 AM
Management of fractional ownership providers Flexjet and Flight Options are engaged in a battle with the union that represents its single-carrier pilot group, IBT 1108, over the integrated pilot list that was developed by the union. (Photo: Flexjet)

The management of fractional ownership providers Flexjet and Flight Options this week accused the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) union of penalizing some pilots in drawing up the integrated seniority list to be applied as the companies combine their workforces under parent company OneSky. On February 24, Teamsters Local 1108 president Efrem Vojta sent the integrated seniority list to Michael Silvestro, CEO of Flight Options and Flexjet, and asked the company to immediately engage in negotiations for a joint collective bargaining agreement (CBA) under Section 6 of the U.S. Railway Labor Act. Late last year, the merged pilot group narrowly voted in favor of union representation.

According to Votja, the integrated list was "constructed based on longevity date, meaning modified adjusted time in active service at either carrier." He added that the company agreed in the 2010 CBA to accept the list put forth by the IBT in the event there ever was a merger. "There is no requirement for the union to negotiate the list with management," he told AIN.

In a written statement, Flight Options and Flexjet accused the IBT of attempting to “penalize those who did not support their unionization efforts.” They allege that the process by which the integrated seniority list was drawn up “violated the process outlined in the CBA” and characterized it as being “blatantly unfair.”

In its letter to Silvestro, the IBT stated that, under the joint CBA, the company has nine months from February 24 to implement the integrated seniority list and that if agreement cannot be reached over this the two sides are required to submit to binding arbitration. In its initial response to the union, the company said that it has a legal obligation under the McCaskill-Bond Act to “insure that the process is fair and equitable to all pilots.”

The company accused the union of creating the seniority list “without any significant input from the pilot group,” arguing that “it does not reflect the interests of our workforce.” However, the IBT insists that the list was “unanimously agreed upon by the two autonomous committees of Flexjet and Flight Options pilots, representing the best interests of their respective pilot groups.”

As negotiations over the CBA get under way, the two sides appear far apart, with the management of Flight Options and Flexjet still disputing even the outcome of last year’s union representation vote. “We have responded promptly to the Teamsters and advised them that presenting a hastily created seniority list that excludes input from its potential members and disregards their best interests is both premature and potentially unlawful.”