COLUMBUS, Ohio, Jan. 8, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The escalating labor dispute between Berkshire Hathaway's (NYSE: BRK.A and BRK.B) NetJets, Inc., and its workforce entered a new phase yesterday when the Columbus-based luxury business jet operator announced plans to hire new pilots while continuing to demand compensation and benefit cuts from its current pilot force and other unionized workers. The professional interests of the 2,700-plus NetJets pilots are represented by the NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots (NJASAP).
In a Jan. 7, 2015, news release, NetJets Chief Operating Officer Bill Noe said, "Due to the strength of our business and our brand around the world, in 2014 we were able to not only recall pilots who were furloughed in 2009 because of the economic downturn, but grow our business to the point where we can open the door for new team members as well."
NJASAP leaders are extremely pleased NetJets has returned its furloughed members to work and will be bringing new pilots on property; however, amid increased demand for the NetJets product, stellar financial performance, and global expansion, NetJets management continues to demand concessions at the bargaining table. "Certainly, expanding our ranks is a very positive and necessary step in the right direction," NJASAP President Pedro Leroux said. "However, the touted growth and profitability have in no way tempered management claims that compensation and benefit cuts from pilots and other workers are necessary because its wealthy customers are demanding cheaper prices."
The pilots' union and NetJets have been in negotiations over a new labor contract for more than a year. As a result of management's demand for a myriad of compensation, benefit, job protection and work rule reductions, the parties have made little progress at the bargaining table. A NetJets web site states it plans to pass on savings from employee concessions to its customers and potential customers. The company has also claimed that Warren Buffett demands a greater return for Berkshire Hathaway.
"If CEO Jordan Hansell is not speaking for NetJets customers when it comes to cutting our compensation and benefits, then NetJets customers need to let the Union and Hansell know that as soon as possible," Leroux said. "The CEO's statements have drawn our customers into an escalating labor dispute that was preventable from the outset." The pilots' agreement contained a contract extension option NetJets management chose not to exercise.
To focus attention on the escalating labor dispute, NJASAP has sponsored informational picketing events across the country with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which represents NetJets flight attendants, mechanics, flight dispatchers and other workers. With their members' livelihoods under attack, the unions formed an alliance, the NetJets Unions Coalition, in early-March 2014. The unions have planned a series of events for 2015 aimed at publicizing the continuing battle between unionized workers and Buffett's company.
About NJASAP Founded in 2008 as an independent labor organization, the NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots (NJASAP) represents the professional interests of the 2,700-plus pilots who fly in the service of NetJets Aviation, Inc, a Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary. For more information, visit NJASAP at www.njasap.com, on Facebook, www.facebook.com/njasap, or on Twitter, @njasap.