November 4, 2004: NetJets Aviation Pilots of Local 284 are awaiting a new election for our Master Executive Council (MEC) after the local botched the first mailing of ballots. The Strong Union slate, which campaigned around the issues of good contracts and establishing an independent Teamster local, was widely expected to defeat the incumbents. The candidates of the slate include myself, Bill Olsen, Greg Rountree, Tim Nelson and Jim Brady. The previous MEC’s term expired on October 31st, leaving a void in leadership just as a strong push is needed to conclude contract bargaining.
Local officials had previously delayed a vote on a tentative agreement in order to allow the MEC to hold 20 “road shows” to promote it. The tentative agreement provides wages so low that many pilots will continue to qualify for food stamps and free lunch programs. Strong Union denounced the weak agreement and it was ultimately voted down by 82% of the nearly 2,000 pilots.
NetJets is the leader in the newly emerging “fractionals” industry, in which wealthy individuals or corporations purchase a portion of an aircraft, similar to a time-share. Strong Union organized in July of this year to unseat the current leadership, which has been viewed as caving in too easily to company demands. Strong Union is supported by an extensive network of over 100 volunteers, including a rank and file advisory committee.
Local 284 has been dismissive of the pilots and uninterested in tackling the complexities of the fractional business and the needs of the members. We want the IBT to charter an independent local for the pilots, and have already established a member-based infrastructure capable of taking on the job of running our union.
Our new non-profit organization, Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots (ASAP), will move into office space in Columbus on Nov. 15. All that is necessary now is a Teamster charter. But as the Airline Division continues to drag its feet, some members are becoming disillusioned with the Teamsters. It is necessary for the IBT to call immediate MEC elections and to hold a membership vote to let the pilots establish their own local. Meanwhile, bargaining has ceased.
Local 284, NetJets Aviation