I was employed at Flexjet from 2007-2017. Even though I’ve been gone for a year now, working at Flexjet has been my favorite aviation job in my nearly 20 years of commercial flying. It saddened me to leave, and it saddens me even further to hear what’s going on there now with the decertification drive and pilot division that is in full force. Make no mistake about it, if you, as professional pilots, give up your rights to bargain for a contract protecting your livelihood to a management group that even refuses to follow judges’ orders at times, they’ll never give you the time of day that you deserve once the union contract is gone. Having worked for two union carriers before Flexjet, and now another union carrier that boasts north of 90% support of the union, I can clearly see that there is major strength in working together. Yes, we enjoyed a period of time at Flexjet when a union wasn’t required, but those were different times, under different leadership. It’s an all new ballgame now. When management sees a 51-49% split among pilots, they know they have the upper hand. Imagine the bargaining power you’d enjoy if that number were 90% and not 51%! The unionized airlines have no problem turning record profits all the while the pilots are making record wages. Flexjet should be no different.
Without a contract you will be subject to decisions that negatively affect your QOL without your input - much like the loss of the 3% 401k, bonus, and sick time that were taken away with the stroke of an e-mail at the end of 2014 by the new Flexjet management. Yes, there is a bonus in place again, but only because of the pressure brought on by the unionized MAJORITY of the pilot group to do so. You have to ask yourself: “Why does DAC enter into contracts with every aspect of their business from aircraft manufacturers, fuel vendors, airline ticket purchases, uniform vendors, catering vendors, all the way down to the janitorial services that keeps headquarters looking nice, but they seem to not want a contract with the pilot group?” The answer is because none of these other companies would do business with another business without a firm understanding of what is expected of each other. None of them would give the other the ability to unilaterally change the rules as one sees fit. That’s why Flexjet management doesn’t want an actual binding contract with its pilot group, and they’ll exploit having no contract at every turn given the opportunity to do so. If you could unilaterally chop your cable or phone bill by 20% without the cable or phone company’s input, wouldn’t you do it? But you can’t because you entered into a contract with them. Be very careful what you wish for if you decide to vote for decertification. Although Flexjet claims that pilot relations will improve without a union on board, it will be short lived when the company refuses to give you the time of day for your grievances.
On a more personal note with regards to SLI, there is a lot of fodder from the company in recent e-mails that simply isn’t true. Regardless of whether you agree with the outcome of the SLI or not, this has no bearing on what the company would have you believe about the process. First of all, there was no Teamsters-mandated methodology and the only policy that we were required to follow was that of McCaskill-Bond and Allegheny-Mohawk, both of which are federal law. If you read these two pieces of legislation, you’ll find no mandated methodologies for SLI. The Teamsters merger policy was simply to follow the “Fair and Equitable” mandate under these federal laws. The Teamsters did not have a hard and fast rule that you have to use date of hire or ratio-rank method or other any other method. Rather, under Teamsters policy we could decide the fairest and most equitable SLI under the McCaskill-Bond and Allegheny-Mohawk “fair and equitable” requirement for Flight Options and Flexjet, and that is what we did.
Secondly, I was personally quoted in a company e-mail out of context about a conversation that took place on Yammer over a year ago. I was quoted as saying, “…don’t you think we’ve been riding the gravy train for a while?” Since the company shutdown Yammer in an effort to silence voices like mine, no one can go back and look at the complete context of the conversation. However, I recall this conversation vaguely and the context, I believe, surrounded the fact that we had been riding NetJets’ coattails for years and that it was time that we stood up for ourselves. If there is more to the context of my comment, or if I am in error of my recollection, I call on the company to release the full conversation so that I can fully explain it instead of being used as fodder in their effort to mislead you. I also find it very unprofessional to smear someone’s name amongst their former colleagues with no way to respond in kind.
SLI aside, please think long and hard about your imminent decision for decertification. No union is perfect, and no leadership is perfect, just as there is no perfect management team. The only thing that prevents unexpected, unilateral changes to your career is a contract. Vote to keep the Teamsters 1108 in place. Tell management that you want them to sign a contract, and send them a message that you will no longer be divided as a pilot group. You’ll turn the table on them and they’ll have no choice but to listen to you. After all, it’s my understanding that their position most recently is that no one will be punished for supporting the Union, so what do you have to lose by demanding only what you deserve? Although I’m no longer a part of your pilot group, please feel free to contact me any time. I wish you all the best.