(PURCHASE, N.Y.) – Holding signs reading “Our Families Deserve Better” and “Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings Pilots Ready to Strike,” pilots from major DHL and Amazon contractor Atlas Air are protesting outside the Purchase headquarters of their airline’s holding company, Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings (AAWW), to demand company executives stop denying them of a fair, industry-standard contract. This week marks the current contract’s amendable date – the date pilots are due a new contract by management.
The current contract provided for negotiations to commence 270 days prior to the amendable date. AAWW executives met with Teamsters Local 1224 to negotiate new contract terms, but abruptly stopped discussions this past spring. Since then, AAWW has steadfastly insisted that the Atlas Air pilots merge their contract with the recently-acquired Southern Air pilots’ existing bankruptcy contract rather than amend and modify their contract, as required by federal law.
AAWW owns three airlines that fly for DHL: Atlas Air, Inc., Polar Air Cargo, Inc. and Southern Air Holdings, Inc. The multi-million dollar company is trying to force pilots from the three carriers into a sub-standard contract that would have a devastating impact on pilots, their families and the entire cargo industry. As a result, AAWW pilots are increasingly leaving for better opportunities, and at a time when a pilot shortage is becoming an industry-wide concern, the company’s ability to keep up with the demands of DHL, Amazon and other customers could be at risk.
“Atlas contracts with some of the world’s biggest and most profitable companies, and it isn’t too much to ask that the pilots who keep Atlas’ operation running have industry-standard pay and safety protections so our families have the stability we need and deserve,” said Mike Griffith, an Atlas Air captain who has been with the cargo carrier for 18 years. “Atlas needs to get serious now about working with us to come to a fair contract agreement, or pilots will keep leaving Atlas at a record rate and we won’t be able to deliver for our clients like Amazon and DHL.”
Pilots from the three AAWW carriers and two other cargo airlines, ABX and Kalitta Air, recently voted with 99 percent support to strike should it be necessary. A strike would cripple DHL’s global operation as these carriers account for 70 percent of DHL’s total global flying, and AAWW is its largest contractor. A strike could also have a significant impact on Amazon.com: the e-retailer recently signed contracts with Atlas and ABX’s parent company, ATSG, for its Prime Air operation.
AAWW and its biggest customers, DHL and Amazon, have all seen profits rise in recent years. Adjusted net income attributable in 2015 to AAWW’s common stockholders totaled $125.3 million, or $5.01 per diluted share, on revenues of $1.8 billion. DHL reported €59.2 billion (66.7 billion US dollars) in increased consolidated revenue this past year, with the express division – which includes the operation of AAWW – being its strongest and most profitable division. Amazon is posting record profits quarter after quarter: the second quarter of 2016 was its most profitable quarter yet, with $30.4 billion in sales and $857 million in profits. Prime, for which Atlas and ABX pilots fly, is one of Amazon’s most profitable divisions.
Despite rising profits, AAWW has been trying to force pilots into sub-standard contracts that would suppress wages and lower quality of life issues for pilots at these carriers and throughout the industry. According to a comparison study conducted by Teamsters Local 1224, AAWW pilots are paid considerably less and work much longer hours than pilots who fly for UPS or FedEx. Pilots at Atlas, Polar and Southern reported being forced to fly long hours with minimal rest time in between flights, which leads to dangerous fatigue.
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. For more information, please visit www.teamster.org.