Allegiant Air is seeking a court order in the United States District Court, District of Nevada enforcing the belief that a pilot strike threatened by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Local 1224 is illegal. The airline wants a Declaratory Judgement issued enforcing the stance that an IBT strike on behalf of the pilots is not an option to resolve a dispute over the timeline of negotiating on and implementing a new preferential bidding system.
Allegiant pilots are prohibited from striking in these circumstances under the Railway Labor Act (RLA) and a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between IBT and Allegiant. That CBA outlines Allegiant’s current preferential bidding system, which creates pilot schedules by taking personal preferences into consideration and ranking the preferences by seniority.
Yet, pilots aren’t happy with the scheduling system. They say that the system is hard on pilots, especially those with seniority.
“Allegiant Air agreed to implement a negotiated scheduling system no later than April 19, 2017. For two years, we have seen management delay progress and renege on agreements it previously made. We are disappointed, but not surprised, to learn that management has chosen to continue this approach by hiding behind a frivolous lawsuit,” said Captain Andrew Robles, an Allegiant Air pilot and Executive Council Chairman at IBT’s pilot union.
Allegiant, however, says that the issues that pilots have with scheduling present a “minor dispute” that should be resolved through grievance and arbitration procedures.
“It’s unfortunate the union would utilize an unlawful strike threat during the peak summer travel season for what is ultimately considered a ‘minor dispute’ under the RLA. Our customers look forward to long-planned vacations and the IBT’s unnecessary actions have resulted in many of our customers thinking their travel plans are at risk,” said Scott Sheldon, Allegiant Executive Vice President, COO, and CFO. “The Teamsters have left us no choice but to take this action.”
“The preferential bidding system, in its current form, doesn’t support the CBA as agreed upon by the company and the IBT,” Sheldon continued. “The company has already committed a significant amount of time and resources to fulfilling our obligation under the CBA by customizing the PBS solution of the IBT’s choice. The final build specifications have been outlined and are under development by Crewing Solutions. We hope to have the final product ready for deployment in the near future.”
“We are in the process of customizing our SmartPref bidding software to meet the submitted requirements of Allegiant’s pilots,” said James Fasso, CEO of Crewing Solutions. “Crew scheduling software is highly sophisticated and complex by nature and requires specific customizations to match the needs of each particular client and to properly integrate with the company’s other systems. We are pleased to be the IBT’s scheduling software of choice, and we have been, and continue to be committed to working with both Allegiant and its pilots to deliver a product that not only meets every requirement but provides enhanced functionality and efficiency for all involved.”
Under the current agreement, Allegiant pilots work an average of 58 hours per month and are given about 14 days off every month. Allegiant uses an “out-and-back” system where pilots return to their bases every night and rarely have to spend a night at a different location.
Allegiant’s pilots aren’t the only ones to threaten strikes in recent weeks. Ryanair pilots across Europe have been threatening strikes for months, and strikes in Ireland have forced Ryanair to relocate some of its planes to accommodate for a decrease in time service, a side effect of the strikes. In France, ATC strikes have prompted airlines to file a complaint with the EU, saying that their reduced access to French airspace violates Freedom of Movement laws.
Featured image from Allegiant Air