Allegiant pilots vote to authorize strike - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Allegiant pilots vote to authorize strike

July 20th, 2018 SanTan Sun News
Allegiant pilots vote to authorize strike

By santan sun news staff

Allegiant Air pilots last week voted to strike “if necessary,” posing the possibility of future hassles for flyers who use Phoenix Mesa Gateway Airport, where the company is the dominant airline.

Reporting 93.5 percent of its members voted to authorize a strike, Teamsters Local 1224 of the Airline Pilots Association said the action “comes in response to Allegiant’s years-long refusal to live up to its commitments and fix a sham scheduling system that has negatively impacted the lives of many pilots and their families.”

Allegiant and Gateway Airport officials called the vote symbolic and said the pilots are forbidden from going on strike over the issue of scheduling.

But pilots pointed out in a news release that “strike could result in cancellations out of major hubs including Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Fort Lauderdale and impact thousands of passengers.”

Calling it “one of the nation’s most profitable airlines,” the pilots in a news release said Allegiant takes a “bare minimum approach to business.”

They said Allegiant “made the unilateral decision to force its pilots to use a homemade scheduling system that goes against industry standards and disregards pilots’ seniority and preferences – often upending pilots’ planned time away with their families.”

They also claimed a number have left Allegiant “for other airlines that respect the basic needs and interests of their pilots.”

Allegiant spokeswoman Hillarie Grey said in a statement, “We want to assure customers there are no legal grounds for a strike and we are not anticipating any disruptions.

“As for status of the scheduling system at issue, we are waiting for a timeframe from the vendor regarding programming time needed to complete requested changes, with a testing period to follow – but hope to have the system implemented by the end of the year.

“Also, please note that the vendor for the new system was selected by the union,” Grey continued. “Allegiant has supported development and testing throughout the process and any allegation otherwise is incorrect.

“We remain committed to, and are actively working towards, the completion of implementing the scheduling system, working with the vendor selected by IBT. Under the Railway Labor Act, as well as the terms of the current collective bargaining agreement, this issue would not constitute grounds for a legal work stoppage.”

Captain Andrew Robles, an Allegiant Air pilot and executive council chairman at the pilots’ union, said, “We are people with spouses and children, not cells on a spreadsheet that Allegiant executives can move around with no rhyme or reason. Striking is a last resort, but we’ll do whatever it takes to hold Allegiant to its promises and to make our airline the best it can be for our pilots, our families and our passengers.”

He said Allegiant pilots have been raising concerns about the scheduling system for years.

In 2016, the pilots and Allegiant reached an agreement requiring that they negotiate and implement a new system within 180 days.

“Allegiant has again stonewalled that negotiation process and recently backed out of its prior agreements with the pilots over terms for the new scheduling system,” the pilots said in the release.

Pilots noted that the airlines in June “canceled dozens of flights in and out of major airports across the country after Allegiant failed to deliver Airbus planes on time – affecting thousands of passengers’ travel plans.”

“Allegiant has a long track record of breaking its commitments to its pilots and we’ve had enough,” Robles said. “Allegiant executives are acting in complete and utter bad faith in failing to negotiate a fair, industry-standard scheduling system.”

The union noted that Allegiant has posted 60 consecutive profitable quarters.

“Its executives are among the highest compensated in the industry, with the company CEO – and largest shareholder – taking home tens of millions in shareholder returns in recent years,” they said, citing a $74 million “windfall” the company received as a result of the recent tax bill.

“This has all been achieved with little consideration for the lives of the pilots who have continued to make Allegiant successful,” they said.