NetJets' flight dispatchers union 'demands' better contract

The Teamsters union representing NetJets flight dispatchers has joined the operator’s pilots union in issuing critical press releases.

By Doug Gollan, March 12, 2023

The Teamsters union representing NetJets flight dispatchers has joined the operator’s pilots union in issuing critical press releases

In a harshly worded press release, the union representing flight dispatchers at NetJets is calling for improved pay and working conditions and an end to forced overtime.

The missive, sent out yesterday, follows stepped-up rhetoric from pilots at the world’s largest operator of private jets.

In a release headlined, “Teamster flight dispatchers slam NetJets over wages, recruitment, retention,” the union wrote, “Teamster flight dispatchers with Local 284 in Columbus, Ohio, are calling out the Berkshire Hathaway-owned NetJets, an air carrier that operates private jets for the ultra-wealthy, for refusing to offer better wages even as the company faces recruitment and retention problems.”

“We believe that a Warren Buffett-owned company that flies millionaires and billionaires around on private jets can afford to pay an industry-standard wage to its highly skilled safety professionals,” said Brenden Robinson, a dispatcher and union steward who serves on the bargaining committee.

The union accused NetJets of “delaying contract negotiations by making unreasonable proposals and taking weeks and even months to respond to the union.”

The union also alleged the company “has failed to increase the number of dispatchers even as they continue to expand their fleet.”

Unrest with pilots

NJASAP, the pilots union at NetJets, began a public campaign against the company last month. It launched with informational pickets during the Super Bowl in Arizona.

Last week it followed that up with a press release. It cited a survey saying a quarter of pilots would leave the company if it doesn’t improve the current contract.

American Airlines on Wednesday said it was willing to match a pay raise for pilots similar to Delta Air Lines.

It would pay captains of widebody jets up to $590,000, an increase of $170,000 from current salaries, according to reports.

NJASAP claims without better compensation, NetJets will lose pilots to large and regional airlines.

However, if there is a severe economic downturn that impacts travel, that could quickly change. Pilots, who are in short supply today, could see their fortunes reversed. After 911 and the 2008 Great Recession, pilots saw wages reduced, and thousands were furloughed.

NetJets had enjoyed mainly amicable relations with unions since current Chairman and CEO Adam Johnson took the helm in 2015 after his predecessor Jordan Hansell was removed amid a period of labor unrest.

In 2017, Local 284 hit the company over outsourced maintenance. NetJets, at the time, labeled it “misleading rhetoric,” according to reports.

Last year, NetJets flight hours increased by more than 52,000 to 598,477. That net increase alone would have ranked as the sixth-largest U.S. operator.

A spokesperson for the private jet company did not respond to a request for comment.

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