Court Orders Flexjet/FO Back to Bargaining Table
A U.S. District Court judge for the Northern District of Ohio has ordered Flexjet and Flight Options to return to the bargaining table with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT Local 1108), which is representing the 600 pilots that fly for the operators. The January 24 decision marked the second time in eight months that a federal judge has called on Flexjet and Flight Options to bargain in good faith.
Flexjet and Flight Options have been locked in legal battles with Local 1108 for nearly a year following the merger of the two carriers and the agreement by the pilots for representation by IBT. Disputes have surrounded seniority lists, voluntary separation packages and decisions to move aircraft.
The court found that the company “failed to bargain in good faith by failing to execute documentation of the voluntary separation program agreement” and said, “The parties are ordered to finalize an agreement.”
While the court granted the union’s request to order the company to bargain in good faith, it rejected the request to halt transfers of aircraft, since that was anticipated to be part of arbitration.
The court also dismissed the request that the company rescind the voluntary separation agreements that had already been accepted by pilots. Both sides agreed such a move would present “logistical difficulties,” the court said.
“The court’s ruling provides us with a basis to move forward in a positive direction,” said David Bourne, director of the Teamsters Airline Division. “The union wants to secure much-needed pay increases, and benefit and working conditions improvements for these dedicated pilots.”
Flexjet called the ruling “both a victory and a disappointment,” saying it solidifies the voluntary separation program as originally offered. But, Flexjet added, “It is a disappointment in that this union continues to use our pilots as pawns to push their agenda. We will continue presenting to the union solutions that ensure strength and health for our business, that are also fair and generous to the pilot group. We remain committed to providing the safest and best service, which will never be compromised."