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Airline Division News, Week Ending July 26, 2014

Court Rules in Favor of Allegiant Air Pilots, Local 1224 

This past Tuesday, the U.S. District Court in Nevada granted a preliminary injunction in favor of the Allegiant Air pilots represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Airline Division and its Local 1224.   

U.S. District Court Judge Andrew P. Gordon issued the decision granting the injunction, finding that Allegiant Air had violated the Railway Labor Act by unilaterally changing the status quo as it existed when the Teamsters commenced bargaining with Allegiant Air for a first Teamsters collective bargaining agreement. 

In August 2012, following an NMB election and certification, the Teamsters replaced an in-house association as the Allegiant pilots' bargaining representative.  The Allegiant Air pilots claimed in their lawsuit that since they began negotiations with the company as members of the Teamsters, the management of Allegiant had unilaterally changed numerous terms and provisions of the “Pilots Work Rules Agreement” (PWR) that had been negotiated and agreed to by management and the pilots’ prior in-house representative. The Teamsters and Allegiant pilots asserted that those changes amounted to violations of the RLA's “status quo” requirements. 

Judge Gordon determined that Allegiant Air had voluntarily recognized the prior, in-house association as the pilots' representative and had negotiated and reached agreements with it covering the pilots' compensation and work rules. He also found that the in-house association was a "representative" within the meaning of the RLA, and that the agreements it secured on behalf of the pilots through its negotiations with Allegiants' senior executive and managers under the PWR established a RLA status quo that could not be unilaterally changed while collective bargaining for the new agreement was underway. The Teamsters and Allegiant have been engaged in negotiations since December, 2012. 

Finding for the pilots and the union, the court concurred that among the unilateral changes by Allegiant Air to the PWR were alterations to the lost medical program for pilots who became ill or disabled, the elimination of pay protections for members involved in various committees beneficial to the company including those involving airline safety, changes to the leave of absence provisions in cases of birth or adoption and replacing seniority-based monthly line bidding with a preferential bidding system (“PBS”). 

In his written decision requiring Allegiant Air to restore the status quo, Gordon found that "the IBT has established a high likelihood of success on its RLA claims and its breach of contract claim" and that, "...the IBT will probably prevail on at least some of its claims that Allegiant has violated the status quo, which would amount to a breach of the PWR." He also noted that, "the public also has an interest in "effective collective bargaining" to "maintain industrial peace."  Allegiant was ordered to immediately reinstate the loss of medical program, comply with the parental leave policy in the PWR, and address the scheduling issues created by the unilateral implementation of PBS. 

Commenting on the ruling, the Allegiant pilots Executive Council Chairman, First Officer Cameron Graff, said, "the court's decision strongly supports and validates our position and rejects the company's after-the-fact  claims that AAPAG was not a 'representative' and the Pilot Work Rules Agreements were not 'agreements' within the meaning of the RLA.  The court recognized the company's claims for what they were and ruled in our favor.  Tuesday’s court's decision is an important decision and it clearly favors the pilots.” Noting that the company had already filed an appeal, Graff went on to say, “While the company has already filed an appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, we are confident that the appeals court will uphold Judge Gordon's decision."

Captain Daniel Wells, President of Teamsters Local 1224, agreed with First Officer Graff.  Captain Wells stated, "Judge Gordon's decision very clearly and forcefully compels the company to honor its word and the agreements that it made with the pilots as reflected in the PWR. As President of Local 1224, I take the responsibility to negotiate in good faith with our contracted companies very seriously and I hope that in light of the court’s ruling that Mr. Gallagher will reconsider his approach to negotiations.”   

Informed of the decision, Airline Division Director David Bourne said, “I congratulate the leadership and pilots of Allegiant Air and the leadership of Local 1224 on this important legal victory. It needs to be clearly understood that the pilots did nothing wrong and that there was no reason for the actions that Allegiant Air management took. We came to Allegiant at the pilots request and have always maintained that an open and cordial process that respects each party’s positions and needs, believing this is the best way to achieve everyone’s goals in an agreement. 

"We will always be open to discussions that work for the good of all. We are dedicated to defending rights and working conditions for our members and working with management for a positive relationship that benefit everyone,” he concluded. 

NetJets Technicians and Related

Negotiations resumed this week with the Union passing a counter proposal on Article 29 – (Field Service).  The Company also passed counter proposals on Articles 20 – (Training), Article 25 – (Sick Leave) and Article 32 – (Hours of Service). Additionally, the Negotiating Committee worked on Article 31 – (Seniority).  

The Union and the Company will be working to set dates for the next round of talks. 

Airline Industry News 

Governmental and Regulatory

U.S. airlines hired 385,619 workers in May, a 1.1% increase over May 2013 and the highest level since September 2012, according to the Transportation Department.  

Airlines, Industry and Labor

United Airlines has repeatedly put workers at Newark Liberty International Airport in danger of being injured by falls or by falling objects and other workplace hazards, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration said. 

Delta Air Lines will supply a Trainer, Pa., refinery with crude oil for five years in a deal the airline signed with Texas midstream firm, Bridger LLC. Under the deal, Delta will supply a third of the refinery's daily capacity. The airline uses the jet fuel the refinery produces.

With the addition of higher-capacity Boeing 737-800s and lower fuel costs, Southwest Airlines may be poised to release robust second-quarter earnings, say some analysts. In addition, the airline saw a 2.4% annual rise in second-quarter traffic and higher unit revenues.  

Boeing already is hard at work on its 787-10 Dreamliner, even as it begins delivery of the 787-9, and has scheduled test flights for 2017.