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Sat, Apr 29, 2023

NetJets Sued by Its Own Pilots

Of Rights Challenged and Sabers Rattled

The NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots (NJASAP)—the labor union representing the three-thousand-plus aviators currently in NetJets’ employ—has filed a lawsuit against the air-charter and fractional ownership powerhouse in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.

The suit accuses NetJets of attempting to suppress union-related pilot speech in violation of federal labor law.

NJASAP filed the action on 24 April 2023 in response to NetJets’ threat to discipline or discharge pilots caught referring aircraft owners and customers to the union’s website, which features articles questioning NetJets’ commitment to safety and detailing the company’s demonstrable inability to retain experienced aviators.

The author of one such work alleges indifference on NetJets’ part to reports of pilot fatigue, stating: “NetJets management refuses to participate in an industry-standard program that benefits the pilot, the operation, and the owner.”

Another article titled Failure to Get In the Air takes on the subject of excessive pilot attrition, suggesting: “NetJets owners deserve more than flying in the back of a flight school aircraft.”

The NJASAP contends the website “provides visitors with information about the sustained U.S. pilot shortage, the status of negotiations between the parties, and how career earnings at NetJets compare to the airlines.”

In a press release made public on 08 March 2023, the NJASAP reported NetJets Chief Operating Officer Alan Bobo emailed NetJets pilots summarily and collectively accusing them of violating the air-carrier’s work rules.

Union representatives endeavored to determine what response pilots ought provide when queried by passengers about contract negotiations and related issues, but were stonewalled by NetJets’ management, which—in addition to ignoring NJASAP’s questions—refused to lift the ban on speaking about the website.

NJASAP President Captain Pedro Leroux remarked: “The aircraft owners and customers we fly engage our pilots in conversations every day, including about their jobs and a wide variety of other topics.

Captain Leroux added: “It is only natural that they would ask us for basic information about our current labor dispute when they see picketers. Referring to a union website is a professional and legal way to respond to their questions. We believe NetJets’ discriminatory ban on union-related speech is unprofessional and illegal.”

The NJASAP press release alleged, also, that on 19 April 2023, NetJets president of sales, marketing and service Patrick Gallagher “sent an email to hundreds of NetJets employees claiming the pilot union’s leadership is out of touch with its members.”

The press release continued: “Gallagher’s email, sent the same day that more than 350 NetJets pilots engaged in an informational picket at the air carrier’s Columbus, Ohio headquarters, also accuses NJASAP and unions at unnamed airlines of raising safety issues ‘when negotiations heat up’ as part of what he referred to as ‘the union playbook.'”

In its lawsuit, the NJASAP characterizes Gallagher’s remarks as false, reckless, and part of a campaign to undermine the union and its elected leadership in violation of the Railway Labor Act.

Captain Leroux concluded: “NJASAP stands ready to resolve our disputes with NetJets in the best interest of pilots, the company we work for, and the people who depend on us for world-class safety and service. What we will not stand for is an attack on our members’ workplace speech rights or their federally-protected right to elect union leaders without management interference.”



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