Monday, September 25, 2017

Atlas Air Worldwide Accuses Pilots’ Union of Work Slowdown: Airline files preliminary injunction against International Brotherhood of Teamsters

The Wall Street Journal
By Imani Moise
Sept. 25, 2017 3:22 p.m. ET

Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings Inc. accused its unionized pilots of intentionally slowing down work, causing “widespread and significant” flight delays, in the latest labor dispute between a union and an air-cargo carrier.

The company, whose airline subsidiaries deliver cargo for United Parcel Service Inc., Deutsche Post AG’s DHL, FedEx Corp. and Inc., filed a preliminary injunction to get the International Brotherhood of Teamsters to end what it calls an illegal work slowdown aimed at disrupting its business. The corporate parent of Atlas Air and Polar Air Cargo Worldwide said in prepared remarks the union is engaging in a coordinated attempt to disrupt service to gain an edge during ongoing contract negotiations.

In a federal complaint filed Monday, Atlas claimed the union has encouraged behaviors like calling in sick at the last minute, refusing to work citing fatigue and refusing to work overtime. The amount of last-minute sick calls jumped to 24% between October 2016 and September 20 from 14% during the same period a year earlier.

The company said tactics like these contributed to an 83% surge in flight delays over six hours since December.

The dispute may stoke concerns about a potential labor impasse at the start of peak holiday shipping season. Last year, an airline operated by rival Atlas rival Air Transport Services Group Inc., successfully got a federal judge to halt a pilot strike after the work stoppage threatened to disrupt deliveries during the critical holiday season.

“We value our commitment to our customers and the passengers and cargo entrusted to us,” said Atlas Air Worldwide Chief Executive William J. Flynn in a statement. “We must protect the service quality we provide to our customers.”

Representatives from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters didn’t immediately have a comment. In the past, the union has attributed the flight disruptions to a pilot staffing shortage.

Airlines and railroads fall under the U.S. Railway Labor Act, which makes it more difficult for unionized workers to strike. Under that law, contracts don’t expire, and federal mediation is mandated if the two sides can’t come to an agreement. The mediators also can call for a recess in negotiations if the two sides reach a stalemate.

Shares in Atlas Air, up 27% so far this year, slipped 2.1% to $66.15 during afternoon trading.

Original article can be found here ➤

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