Allegiant CEO Maurice Gallagher, long an outspoken opponent of airline unionization, is living his worst dream: his pilots are represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
Before becoming Allegiant CEO in 2003, Gallagher co-founded ValuJet and was principal owner of commuter airline WestAir. He has always favored a low-cost approach, which has included buying older airplanes, outsourcing maintenance, targeting low-budget fliers and resisting unionization.
It has worked spectacularly well at Allegiant, just as it did in the early days at ValuJet.
But unlike the ValuJet pilots, the Allegiant pilots unionized, voting to join the Teamsters in 2012. It is safe to say that the two parties have been at odds ever since.
In fact, in two and a half years of seeking to negotiate a contract, the parties have reached tentative agreements on two of the approximately 30 contract areas, said Dan Wells, an Atlas Air captain who is president of Teamster Local 1224, which represents the approximately 500 Allegiant pilots.
In January, pilots voted 465-8 to authorize a strike. Now, the union is moving on two fronts to use the threat of a strike to improve working conditions.