Atlas Air pilots ordered to negotiate new agreement

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Atlas Air pilots have been ordered to negotiate for a joint collective bargaining agreement (JCBA) following an arbitration decision on Monday 26 August.

The collective bargaining agreement (CBA) applies to Atlas Air’s acquisition of Southern Air, and Atlas says it confirms their position that the union, Airline Professionals Association – Teamsters Local 1224 violated the existing CBA by refusing to follow the merger provisions for a new JCBA and failing to present an integrated pilot seniority list.

Separately, the union was found to be in violation of the Southern Air CBA for refusing to follow the merger provisions for the JCBA on behalf of the Southern Air pilots.

William Flynn, chairman and chief executive officer of Atlas Air Worldwide says it is time the pilots receive a new contract, something that has been the goal since the Atlas/Southern merger in 2016.

He says: “The recent decisions by the arbitrators have made clear that the existing collective bargaining agreements provide the appropriate path for the merger and should have been followed.”

Arbitrators have ordered the union to proceed with contractually required negotiations for a new JCBA, and must submit an integrated seniority list, followed by a period of bargaining, after which any unresolved issues must be submitted to timely, interest-based arbitration.

The union has expressed anger at the latest decision, with recently retired Atlas Air pilot Captain Robert Kirchner saying the company is in “complete turmoil”, and the ruling will “do nothing to restore shareholder confidence or more importantly, pilot morale”.

The executive council chairman for Atlas Air pilots of Teamsters Local 1224 says: “Atlas Air has waged a vicious legal battle with its pilots for more than three years and squandered opportunities of reaching a reasonable agreement through direct, good-faith negotiations. Teamsters Local 1224 will pursue all remaining legal options to avoid a contract that is resolved by an arbitrator and that robs pilots of their right to vote on it and ratify as needed.”

He adds: “Pilots have witnessed a short-sighted litigation war that’s caused their faith in management to deteriorate completely. The company must do right by all invested parties — current pilots, future pilots, investors — and settle a fair, industry-standard contract now.”