Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Pilots sue Buffett's NetJets over labor, privacy

Dec 3 (Reuters) - A group representing more than 2,700 pilots in contentious contract talks with NetJets Inc has sued the luxury aviation unit of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc over alleged violations of federal labor and privacy laws.

The NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots accused NetJets of impersonating a pilot on Twitter, baiting pilots to conduct work slowdowns, even as the company threatened to fire pilots who did. It also accused NetJets of publishing photos of pilots engaged in lawful picketing.

NetJets was also accused of illegally infiltrating a password-protected, confidential message board for pilots.

The lawsuit filed on Tuesday in the U.S. District Court in Columbus Ohio seeks a halt to the alleged improper conduct, which it said violated the federal Railway Labor Act and Stored Communications Act, plus compensatory and punitive damages.

NetJets did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The company specializes in "fractional" aircraft ownership, which lets individuals and companies buy shares of private jets.

This allows executives like Buffett, the world's third-richest person, to travel on short notice, with greater privacy than on commercial aircraft.

Tuesday's lawsuit was filed roughly 1-1/2 years after talks began on a new labor agreement for the pilots.

While NetJets has returned to profitability after a $711 million loss in 2009, and is expanding in markets such as China, it has said it must be better prepared for economic slowdowns.

It has said it wants to reduce its budget by 5 percent, obtain benefits concessions, and have at least 200 crew members voluntarily give up their jobs. (

Pedro Leroux, president of the NetJets pilots group, said the alleged conduct underlying the lawsuit was a means to extract concessions from pilots. The group said both sides are "far apart" in negotiations.

"NetJets is trying to destroy the union and to force pilots to give in to their concessionary demands, two things that will never happen," Leroux said in a statement.

The company has operations in Columbus. Berkshire is based in Omaha, Nebraska.

The case is NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots v. NetJets Aviation Inc et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Ohio, No. 14-02487. 

- Source:

No comments:

Post a Comment