Days after the death of Berkshire Vice Chair Charlie Munger the union representing NetJets pilots say they are ‘escalating’ their dispute directly to Warren Buffett.
Days after the death of Berkshire Hathaway Vice Chairman Charlie Munger, the NetJets Association of Shared Pilots (NJASAP) is launching an ad campaign targeting his longtime business partner, the parent company’s Chairman Warren Buffett.
According to an email to the media, NJASAP “will be escalating its call for a fair contract directly to Warren Buffett — calling out the seeming hypocrisy between his words and actions in a pointed front-page ad running in The Wall Street Journal.”
The pilots also assert that NetJets is lowering new hires’ minimum flight time requirements instead of increasing wages to retain current pilots.
The ad cites a quote from Italian fashion designer Aldo Gucci, repeated by Buffett, that states in part, “Price is what you pay; value is what you get.”
It goes on to read, “NetJets owners are promised unrivaled reliability, service, and ease, but the fractional refuses to invest in the highly qualified professional pilots who make that promise a reality.”
It continues, “That is why 40% of pilot respondents in a recent survey said they would leave NetJets within a year due to failed contract negotiations.”
The ad (below) concludes, “Owners are paying the price, but are they getting the value?”
NJASAP says the new ad “comes after negotiations deteriorated with the final sticking point being quality of life improvements for pilots.”
The union claims, “NetJets refuses to make adjustments to its scheduling practices that would address burnout and ensure its pilots – who fly the world’s wealthiest people to some of the most remote and challenging locations in the world – get manageable duty periods.”
NJASAP says 270 pilots have left the company this year.
The pilots say NetJets told them the “financial cost was too high” to adopt any of the union’s proposed changes.
They say management is “completely disregarding how important commonsense scheduling and rest is to service.”
“Instead of trying to attract more talented pilots, NetJets has simply been reducing flight time minimums. The previous minimum of 2,500 hours to apply at NetJets was first reduced to 1,500, and a second reduction took the minimum to just 1,000 hours if pilots come from a flight school or military school,” NJASAP says.
The pilots assert that “1,000 hours in the realm of pilot experience is pretty low.”
In June, the union accused their employer of having “systematic deficiencies” in its training programs.
NJASAP has organized informational pickets during major sporting events, including the Super Bowl and The Masters golf tournament.
The pilots also picketed Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting in Omaha.
The pilots are currently in the middle of a contract that runs through 2026.
However, pilots at the major airlines are winning record pay increases as the carriers struggle to staff up.
During the pandemic shutdown, the airlines used some of the $54 billion CARES Act funds for early retirement incentives.
NetJets is the largest private jet operator in the world.
In September, it said it would buy as many as 1,500 additional private jets from Textron.
NJASAP has been at the center of controversy before.
Its 2015 dispute with management led to the ouster of then-Chairman and CEO Jordan Hansell.
Adam Johnson has held that position since.
During the annual shareholders meeting in May, Buffett and Munger praised company management but didn’t address the labor dispute.
Buffett told a live CNBC audience, “Adam Johnson has performed; you can’t believe what he’s done with the business.”
He added, “It was a tough model for a long time, but (Johnson) has brought it where it is, and we should have a wonderful company forever.”
NJASAP was also sued by rival fractional Flexjet in 2019.
Flexjet alleged, “The union and its operatives sent hundreds of vulgar, threatening, and malicious mailings to the homes of company managers and employees who spoke up in support of a May 2018 union decertification election.”
The case was later settled.
However, Flexjet ran a series of ads targeting NetJets and its pilots.
One of the executions read, “Happy pilots are safe pilots.”
Another (above) stated, “Non-union pilots tend to smile more.”