May 4, 2015
Pilots’ planned strike at Allegiant thwarted by court injunction
It was back on January 25th this year that Allegiants pilots voted overwhelmingly to go on strike if protracted negotiations with the airline for the reinstatement of a number of pilots’ benefits and work rule protections to previously negotiated levels could not be satisfactorily concluded. Negotiations between the pilots’ union and the airline have been very protracted, having commenced two years ago, yet still remain unresolved. In this instance it is not just the financial aspect the pilots want to negotiate over. The problem dates back to 2012 when the pilots joined the Teamsters (Airline Professionals Association Teamsters Local 1224), which now represents some 530 of Allegiants pilots. Soon after, the pilots allege that Allegiant executives illegally disposed of and then replaced existing medical benefits, seniority policies and a number of other workplace rules. The Teamsters sued Allegiant in November 2013 to restore the changed benefits while they tried to also negotiate a new collective-bargaining deal.
On the 1st April 2015 Teamsters announced that the pilots would go on strike the following day as negotiations had still stalled. However only a few hours before the strike started, U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro granted Allegiant a temporary restraining order against the Teamsters. Through the use of the temporary injunction this then allowed time for U.S. District Judge Andrew Gordon to rule on whether Allegiant pilots could legally go on strike. That ruling has now been delivered and has made it illegal for Allegiants pilots to go on strike. U.S. labor law which covers airlines is surprisingly the Railway Labor Act, and which makes it difficult for pilots to strike, even allowing the White House to intervene and stop a walkout. Consequently strikes seldom occur. Allegiant have tried to smooth the waters by offering the pilots a pay rise, effective May 1st, of between 5% and 7%, yet this has fallen on stony ground as originally the pilots were meant to be awarded biannual pay increments, which had not been happening. The union has made it clear that the award of between 5% and 7% is in line with record profits the airline has posted and cannot be seen as any form of sweetener for the pilots.