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.
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).