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the gojet/TSA history lesson

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Well-known member
Jan 14, 2002
Trans States Pilots vs GoJet
A White Paper Analysis

The purpose of this document is to inform airline professionals on how GoJet Airlines, LLC adversely affects Trans States Pilots. While this white paper is factual, it is not meant to be unbiased or devoid of opinion. To the contrary, this document’s is designed to educate anyone considering a job or career with GoJet so that he or she may make an informed decision by answering this question: Will accepting a position at GoJet be detrimental to Trans States pilots and the airline industry as a whole?
In late 2003, Trans States Airlines management indicated their desire to acquire and operate large regional jet aircraft. In early 2004, the Trans States MEC and TSA management began negotiating rates of pay for large regional jet aircraft (i.e. those in excess of 64 seats). Despite months of negotiations, the TSA MEC was unable to reach an agreement on the substandard pay scales Trans States management demanded. As a result, in early fall of 2004 negotiations had diffused.
In October 2004, Trans States Airlines’ President announced a need to create another airline to operate large regional jet aircraft, citing the Allied Pilots Association (APA – American Airlines) scope language restricting Trans States Airlines from operating aircraft larger than 50 seats. This airline, GoJet, would be controlled by the newly created Trans States Holdings1. While the APA scope restrictions did exist, that limitation did not prevent two airlines with independent operating certificates from operating with one seniority list or under a single collective bargaining agreement.
Meanwhile, four TSA management pilots who were hired as GoJet pilots, signed authorization cards stating they wished to be represented by the Teamsters, and GoJet management secretly signed on to the bogus scheme. ALPA challenged this attempt with the National Mediation Board, claiming that the Teamsters could not be the bargaining representative of GoJet since GoJet had not yet obtained an operating certificate. ALPA’s challenge was upheld by the NMB. The Trans States MEC immediately requested a meeting with the President of Trans States Airlines, who, by no coincidence, would also be the President of GoJet Airlines. Only after informational picketing, a pilot rally at St. Louis and a letter written by then ALPA President Duane Woerth to TSA CEO Hulas Kanodia, was the President of TSA finally convinced to meet and negotiate with the TSA MEC.
Negotiations began in the summer of 2005. Throughout the negotiations, TSA took a take-it-or-leave-it approach. Eventually in late summer 20052 TSA management put their last, best proposal on the table. Their LOA proposal contained Single Carrier language, a Holding Company Letter (binding TSH to TSA CBA), merged seniority list, substandard 70/90 seat pay scales, and a contract extension of 4 years3. Unfortunately, the GoJet LOA, in the opinion of many TSA pilots, lacked true job security protection. Management’s LOA prevented the bumping of those pilots already at GoJet from their equipment in the event of a reduction in another piece of equipment. This was particularly sensitive to the J41 fleet, which had already been scheduled to be removed from service by mid 2006. ALPA had tried to remedy this inequity through an additional proposal that protected the Trans States pilots, but TSA management was not interested. The TSA MEC conducted a series of road shows that outlined what management’s LOA did and didn’t provide in terms of wages, duration and scope. The pilots of Trans States Airlines voted down the proposal 3 to 1 in what was clearly a very emotional vote.
The Trans States MEC re-polled the pilots to determine why the vote failed and also attempted to resume negotiations, but Trans States management refused despite our best efforts to re-engage. ALPA also filed a petition with the NMB to recognize Trans States and GoJet as a single carrier. The NMB received briefs from the Company and ALPA. Primarily because the Company had separated the labor relations functions of TSA and GoJet, the NMB denied ALPA’s single carrier petition and Teamsters (IBT local 618) remained as the representational party. Trans States’ MEC also filed a Section 1 scope violation grievance, which remains pending today. The TSA CBA states that the Company shall not create or acquire an alter-ego to avoid the terms and conditions of this agreement5. Although ALPA lost the Single Carrier petition, a different standard will be used by an arbitrator on whether TSA violated that portion of the CBA.
Ex-TSA Pilots
During the course of the GoJet negotiations in 2004 and 2005, two TSA pilots who had become Flight Managers4 assisted in the creation and operation of GoJet. These flight managers would later actively try to prevent ALPA from becoming the labor representation unit at GoJet by signing authorization cards with two others in an attempt to place IBT 618 on property and block any attempt by pilots to choose ALPA. In early 2005, these same pilots were directly involved with other senior TSA management personnel in union busting tactics that resulted in the wrongful termination of five union officers in a direct attempt to undermine the TSA MEC and ALPA.
In late 2005, after the LOA vote failed, TSA management began offering GoJet jobs to TSA pilots by enticing them with up to five years’ longevity. At the time, TSA pilots were actively demonstrating that GoJet flying belonged to and should be flown by TSA pilots on the TSA Seniority List. Only a few pilots from TSA rank and file went to GoJet, but their decision to do so at the expense of our campaign to unify these companies left deep scars and set off the beginning of a pilot war. Most of the ex-TSA pilots who went to GoJet were made check airmen and held IBT shop steward positions. Even members of IBT’s Airline Division Local 747 condemned the actions of IBT 618 to unionize this group while ALPA was trying to resolve the issues. TSA pilots wore “Alter EGoJet” badge backers in a visual display of their discontent, while ALPA filed a grievance5 over the alter-ego carrier (a label which remains with GoJet today).
GoJet Growth
As time went on, a misconception arose throughout the airline industry that the TSA vs GoJet issue had been resolved. To the contrary, it had not. Deep divisions grew between pilots employed at the alter-ego carrier GoJet and those who remained loyal to Trans States Airlines. TSA pilots discouraged pilots from seeking employment with GoJet because of the consequences that growth could have on Trans States pilots’ own future job security. At the time, several airlines had disappeared – from Chicago Express to Atlantic Coast (Independence Air) – and some of these unemployed pilots, not understanding the ramifications of their actions, accepted employment at GoJet. Ten CRJ700s were planned for GoJet delivery with options for 20 more. The furloughing and closures at other carriers resulted in a pool of available pilots, including pilots from flight schools who knew nothing about the situation, and GoJet eventually grew to 15 aircraft solely operating as United Express with approximately 150 pilots11.
Trans States Negotiations
Needless to say, TSA pilots and negotiators have placed job security as a primary objective in their Section 6 negotiations, which opened in February 2006. During the course of negotiations, TSA management announced the loss of 10 jets – returned to American Eagle which held the leases on these aircraft. Most recently, Trans States management admitted to the loss of the entire American Connection Codeshare effective May 2009. Seventeen (17) aircraft will disappear from our property, taking our 50 jet aircraft operation down to 33. As a result, approximately 150 TSA pilots have been furloughed. At the same time, our alter-ego sister carrier continues to hire more pilots. The only good news coming from the loss of the American Connection (AX) flying is the elimination of the APA scope limitations – as of May 2009, Trans State Airlines is no longer limited to 50-seat or fewer aircraft operations.
Clearly, the continued growth at GoJet is a serious threat to the job security of Trans States pilots. Presently, GoJet is taking delivery of six additional aircraft and have options for 10 more. This would increase the size of the GoJet fleet to 31 (assuming all options exercised) while the TSA fleet is scheduled to be reduced to, at best, 33 and quite possibly as low as 27 due to additional aircraft being returned to the lessor. Right now, Trans States Airlines remains the dominant revenue stream to Trans States Holdings and very likely supports the GoJet operations. Consider this: most of TSA’s flying is fee for departure, as is GoJet’s; however, GoJet’s approximate 30,0006 yearly departures for 2008 were far less than TSA’s 100,0006 departures. Additionally, operating revenues for GoJet in 2007 were $127 million7 compared to TSA at $350 million7. As growth and revenue increase at GoJet and revenue and fleet size shrink at TSA, you could expect an eventual role reversal.
GoJet’s steady growth continues to diminish any chance for TSA pilots to propel our job security issues to the surface. Time is of the essence for Trans States pilots. Clearly, a role reversal in pilot group size, fleet size, and revenue production marginalize the effectiveness of any self help measure at Trans States Airlines at the end of the cooling-off period in the current section 6 bargaining. Our only bargaining leverage is the threat of lawful self help, which could adversely impact the bulk of Trans States’ revenue stream, thereby affecting their capability to purchase additional jets for GoJet (at least at the rate they want them) as well as disrupt their entire operation.
It is no secret that Trans States Holdings would like to diversify its portfolio of codeshare partners. Right now GoJet has a codeshare agreement strictly with United, and Trans States Airlines (as of May 2009) will codeshare primarily for United with only a few aircraft in the US Airways system. To be tied to a single codeshare partner that can flex their leverage to eat into their profits remains a concern for both GoJet and TSA management. Additionally, GoJet’s future growth is contingent on UAL’s Jets-four-Jobs (J4J) program, which guarantees seats to furloughed UAL pilots. While this arrangement provides a positive outcome for UAL pilots, it continues to erode the opportunity for TSA pilots to correct the past. The same would hold true for other pilots that fill those seats and promote GoJet’s growth.
TSA Pilots’ Plight
TSA pilots remain focused on trying to resolve the GoJet issue in a manner that concedes GoJet’s existence, but rights the injustice of the past while providing future stability and job security for Trans States pilots’ and families. GoJet was born off the labor and sacrifice8 of Trans States pilots. The very existence of GoJet Airlines serves as a constant reminder of the disloyalty Trans States Airlines and Trans States Holdings have for its labor force. The TSA pilot group has endured a tiring and relentless barrage of attacks through the years, yet this pilot group remained loyal to the industry by not accepting substandard wages on larger regional jet aircraft nor did they accept disloyalty as defeat. Trans States pilots continue to build on their own unity and resolve that an improved contract without adequate job protections will ultimately place TSA pilots in the unemployment line or be severely whipsawed by TSA management. It is likely that our last and best chance to obtain acceptable job security is in our current Section 6 negotiations. The likelihood of having enough leverage in the future – once GoJet reaches a self-sustainable size – to address these important issues is highly unlikely. The window of opportunity is quickly closing. TSA pilots are battered and weathered, but remain focused on this one very important issue. TSA pilots continue to prepare for what will likely be a game of brinksmanship, but our future livelihood is no game.
Trans States Holdings, Trans States Airlines and GoJet Connections
Even though ALPA lost the single carrier petition, many of the same members of management clearly participate in both companies’ affairs. The one they neatly refrain from being overt about is labor relations. Many employees labeled Holding company employees wear two hats at all times: One for GoJet and one for TSA, when it’s convenient. Most of GoJet services are contracted out to Trans States Airlines. Many members of the training department at Trans States have been required to teach GoJet indoctrination class. According to TSA management, these employees are being subcontracted at fair market values. In addition, GoJet utilizes Trans States Airlines maintenance to support their maintenance operations. Again, TSA maintenance is merely being contracted out. GoJet is presently seeking to have Trans States Airlines be the sole contract maintenance provider to GoJet. TSH continues to perpetuate the illusion of separate companies, but too many faces work at both. They may legally be deemed separate entities, but most TSA pilots know the real story.
Life at GoJet9
In late 2007, some pilots at GoJet with whom the TSA MEC had contact expressed their discontent with IBT 618. They claimed that the Teamsters did nothing for them and only seemed to collect dues with little to no representation. Those individuals sought help and advice from the TSA MEC and expressed their desire to change representation either to IBT 747 or ALPA. They assured the TSA MEC that the honeymoon was over and that the ex-TSA guys were no longer in power as IBT representatives. When the TSA MEC came out publicly to support some of these pilots in an effort to show our willingness to work with them instead of against them, GoJet management went on a headhunting campaign, a tactic previously and unsuccessfully deployed on the TSA property as well. Those GoJet pilots who sought to correct an injustice while still protecting their memberships rights were harassed by the ex-TSA pilots working at GoJet. The ex-TSA pilots claimed these pilots sold them out and were conspiring to hurt all GoJet pilots. The GoJet membership, suppressed by management for years, did nothing as these outspoken GoJet pilots were maligned. One resigned (coerced) and the other was terminated. This led some ex-TSA pilots being elected back into power as shop stewards cutting off all communications as well as any chance to see a change in representation at that property.
IBT 618 was never meant to represent airline pilots. Pilot representation has been mainly reserved for IBT 747, which is a major part of the IBT airline division. Local 618 lacks any airline experience and has only represented the TSA flight attendants during previous years. Based on the former GoJet representative accounts and other GoJet pilots, previously and currently employed, GoJet pilots lack the backbone of a good bargaining agent. IBT 618 also appears to be too closely connected with TSA management, which is why TSA management sought them out during GoJet’s inception in order to prevent ALPA or a stronger union from coming on to the property. Its seems fairly clear that one should not expect very meaningful, if any, representation from IBT 618 at GoJet especially since the ex-TSA pilots are now running the local show. IBT 618 has shown much more loyalty to management over the years, not to pilots.
Several pilots have characterized life at GoJet as harsh and intimidating. Check airmen given a lot of power use that power to control the pilot group through fear and intimidation. Many pilots end up with FAA Letters of Investigations (LOIs) because pilots are expected to do whatever it takes to get a flight out on time. Pilots are terminated because they stand up to management or get noticed too much. Certainly, the TSA MEC cannot purport that all pilots at GoJet feel this way, but several have shared similar accounts. Most GoJet pilots seem to keep their heads down, look the other way and hope they get to move on with a clean record to another airline when hiring improves. These heavy-handed management tactics only serve to suppress the pilot group and influence them to conform or else. Stick your head up out of the weeds too far and you might get shot!
The outcome for TSA pilots is bleak unless adequate job security protections can be negotiated. TSA pilots are presently operating 50-seat aircraft without any prospect for future growth in larger regional jet aircraft. Forecasts show that regional 50-seat aircraft will continue to lose market share to larger jet aircraft in future years. These forecasts can accelerate especially if fuel prices hit the highs they did in the summer of 2008, which culminated with a dramatic capacity reductions in 50-seat and less aircraft. With operating revenues favoring Trans States Airlines 3 to 1, looming self help at the end of a cooling-off period is our biggest leverage to force this issue to the table. That, combined with UAL’s position as GoJet’s and TSA’s largest codeshare partner and no opportunity to diversify may also equate to some leverage to address our job security concerns.
Clearly, time is not on the side of TSA pilots, and GoJet’s continued growth and the indifference and support by pilots throughout this industry only serve to accelerate the demise of Trans States Airlines and the TSA pilots. This situations can resolve itself in several ways: 1) TSA pilots resort to legal self help and management refuses to deal with the job security issues resulting in other pilots taking those positions or the liquidation of TSA assets; 2) TSA pilots fail to achieve job security protections for the future and TSA management uses their new found leverage with a substantially larger GoJet to either whipsaw TSA pilots into submission or dismantle the company at its own pace in line with GoJet growth so as to achieve no net loss in operating revenues over time; 3) GoJet could continue to grow while TSA pilots continue to decline resulting in a role reversal of pilot group sizes, at which time Trans States Holdings could voluntarily go to the NMB and request a Single Transportation Sytem10 designation, which could result in TSA pilots being represented by IBT 618.
Or, 4) the outcome most favored by TSA pilots, with industry cooperation Trans States Airlines pilots can secure the job security protections we deserve while addressing the GoJet issue fairly and equitably for all. This is in the best interest of TSA pilots and the airline industry at large, but it takes the support of all not just the few. The cooperation of pilots in taking the time to read and understand the issues will hopefully guide pilots to make supportive decisions in the future.
1. Trans States Holdings was merely a paper company that utilized the same officers as those at Trans States Airlines, Inc. Hulas Kanodia is and remains the CEO of Holdings and Airlines. GoJet filed for an application for a certificate of public convenience and necessity on December 8, 2004.
2. It’s important to note that in early spring 2005, TSA management engaged in a union busting campaign by wrongfully terminating 5 union officials in a short period of time. ALPA won or settled all these terminations in subsequent years.
3. TSA MEC ratified a contract extension in 2002 for an additional 2 years. This extended the original CBA amendable date from July 31, 2004 to July 31, 2006. The GoJet LOA would have further extended the amendable date to 2010.
4. These flight managers were directly involved in a previously unsuccessful attempt to launch a coup against the TSA MEC over the US Airways J4J Agreement and large jet pay scales.
5. TSA MEC filed a grievance in 2005 citing violation to the TSA CBA Section 1 Scope as TSA management created an Alter-Ego for the purpose of avoiding the terms of labor agreement, especially how it related to the negotiations for pay scales of large regional jet aircraft. This grievance is still pending.
6. Data Source – DOT Form 41 filing 2008.
7. Data Source – DOT Form 41 filing 2007.
8. The TSA Contract extension only served to fund the existence of GoJet.
9. Accounts for life at GoJet are based on accounts from past and present GoJet pilots.
10. Single Transportation System does not force the company to merge lists, operations or contracts, but only to structure itself so that a single representation unit is responsible for labor relations, i.e. one bargaining agent such as IBT or ALPA.
11. GoJet presently has 19 aircraft and approximately 190 pilots. TSA has 37 aircraft and approximately 460 pilots with 150 in furlough status.

Every attempt was made to verify time lines and accuracy of factual details. This document should be considered a summary and does not account for every detail that transpired over the years. The source of this document is a Trans States Pilot who worked with TSA during the period of time discussed and was involved in many aspects of what took place.
Nobody cares. GoJet pilots work for all the major airlines. The majors don't care. Most major pilots have never heard of GoJets anyway. To us, regionals are all the same.
Several pilots have characterized life at GoJet as harsh and intimidating. Check airmen given a lot of power use that power to control the pilot group through fear and intimidation. Many pilots end up with FAA Letters of Investigations (LOIs) because pilots are expected to do whatever it takes to get a flight out on time. Pilots are terminated because they stand up to management or get noticed too much. Certainly, the TSA MEC cannot purport that all pilots at GoJet feel this way, but several have shared similar accounts. Most GoJet pilots seem to keep their heads down, look the other way and hope they get to move on with a clean record to another airline when hiring improves. These heavy-handed management tactics only serve to suppress the pilot group and influence them to conform or else. Stick your head up out of the weeds too far and you might get shot!

Many valid and agreeable points overall but this statement is absolutely TRUE!!! In fact, I previously stated that an FAA guy I talked to a few months ago had thought that the LOI's were going away due to the vague writing of the MEL and he thought the FAA would be more lenient because basically the company effed up on the writing of the MEL but I recently found out this is NOT the case at all. Many of the LOI's (around 30-40 I think) are to be in court later this month. At least that is what I was told last week. FWIW
Nobody cares. GoJet pilots work for all the major airlines. The majors don't care. Most major pilots have never heard of GoJets anyway. To us, regionals are all the same.

You and a minority may not...but for every one of you there are dozens of us who will NEVER forget.
TSA will have to do what ever it can to clean up the mess of 2005 and in all probability they will have to give up more than they'll receive. I feel for the pilots now that have to deal with the disasterous negotiations in 05 that sealed the fate of TSA. However this whole deal could have been prevented in 2005. The biggest irony about this is not the pay or the contract, because the fact of the matter is Gojet now is union and has an industry standard contract as well as 66 seat pay. The irony is that gojet single list was voted down because it would hurt job security for the pilots. Look at where we are now in 09, that's what the current TSA is begging of Hulas, a single list which they could have had in 05. So sad. Whatever, what's done is done no need to harp on the past. Gojet is a new company with pilots that have no connection at all with 2005 and are union and Alpa/Teamster supporters.
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