27 Apr, 2015, 10:00 ET
COLUMBUS, Ohio, April 27, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In legal papers sent to the NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots (NJASAP), NetJets, Inc., said a vice president published vicious anti-union content on social media throughout a four-year period. NJASAP is the labor union representing the 2,700-plus pilots employed by the Columbus, Ohio-based carrier. In December, the Union filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio accusing the Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A and BRK.B) subsidiary of using social media to conduct a massive unlawful campaign to harass and intimidate pilots. NetJets provides business and leisure travel on private luxury business jets to its wealthy customers, including Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett.
"The aviation industry is based on trust. Lives depend on it," NJASAP President Pedro Leroux said. "Passengers trust pilots to operate aircraft in accordance with the highest safety standards. Pilots trust flight attendants to carry out critical safety procedures in the cabin. Crews trust mechanics, flight dispatchers and other ground personnel. We all need to be able to trust the managers and senior executives responsible for the safety of operations. NetJets's conduct, including CEO Jordan Hansell's incredible claim that the vice president acted alone, breached the trust of the entire workforce, customers and Warren Buffett and jeopardizes the viability of NetJets."
After a Twitter account with the handle "TwinkieTheKid" was activated, NetJets hung Twinkie snack cakes next to photographs of pilots on the walls of its corporate offices, where they still remain. However, Hansell claims NetJets did not become aware of the Twitter content until after the Union filed the lawsuit. The Twitter account was used to intimidate pilots and their families. Blogs falsely blamed the Teamsters Union for thousands of job losses at Hostess Brands, Inc., following a 2012 bankruptcy and threatened the same fate awaited NetJets workers if pilots did not accept deep concessions at the highly profitable carrier. The lawsuit also accuses NetJets of conducting illegal surveillance of pilots, threatening to blacklist them and other illegal conduct designed to cripple NJASAP.
"Admitting one of their own was behind the social media accounts used to harass and threaten pilots and their family members confirms that NetJets has been operating outside the boundaries of the law and basic decency," Leroux said. "NetJets is responsible for page after page of hateful propaganda that demonized its own pilots, flight attendants, mechanics and flight dispatchers, mocked hardworking Americans in other occupations, and threatened that NetJets pilots would lose their jobs for exercising rights enjoyed by all workers in the United States. We are very confident the evidence will prove the vice president was no 'lone wolf.'"
In court filings, NetJets originally defended the social media content detailed in the Union's lawsuit, describing it as "competitive jockeying and sharp bargaining." However, on April 21, several hours before NetJets was required to respond to NJASAP discovery requests, Hansell sent a letter to the Union apologizing for the content and claimed NetJets was unaware of the multi-year, anti-union campaign conducted via Twitter and blogs. The vice president blamed by Hansell reported directly to senior managers of the company. NJASAP is seeking thousands of documents and computer records from NetJets and plans to depose Hansell and other high ranking company officials. Union officials vow to expose the roles other managers played in the effort to intimidate pilots and crush their Union.
About NJASAP Founded in 2008 as an independent labor advocate, 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 our web site, www.njasap.com, Facebook page, www.facebook.com/njasap, or Twitter feed, @njasap.
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SOURCE NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots (NJASAP)
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