Pilots file lawsuits against Atlas Air

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Atlas Air pilots have filed two lawsuits against their employer after an instructor was fired and to stop illegal subcontracting of flights.

On Friday 1 February, Teamsters Local 1224 on behalf of and in conjunction with Atlas Air captain Kristofer Lang, who served as a Crew Training Instructor (CTI) filed after Captain Lang was unlawfully retaliated and fired for providing a testimony in support of the pilots’ union and against Atlas Air and Polar Air Cargo.

The complaint calls for preliminary and permanent injunctive relief and names the union representing Lang – the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and its local, Airline Professionals Association Teamsters Local 1224 – as plaintiff.

In 2017, the company initiated a lawsuit claiming the union was orchestrating a “slowdown” by instructing pilots to make false fatigue calls to remove themselves from duty and piloting aircraft.

As a CTI, Lang testified in federal court that the company’s claim was false, and shortly afterwards saw his role greatly diminished until he was fired in October 2018.

The complaint alleges this was for discriminatory and retaliatory reasons, motivated by an intent to punish Lang for testifying against the company in the preliminary injunction hearing, and seeks reinstatement.

Captain Daniel Wells, an Atlas Air pilot and president of Teamsters Local 1224 says: “Captain Lang’s brave testimony in the 2017 hearing laid bare the company’s mendacity. He stood up for truth, and as a result the company terminated his position as an esteemed crew training instructor. Every worker in every workplace should be able to speak out without fear of retaliation; that is a basic workplace right. By filing this lawsuit, we hope that Atlas Air and Polar Air realise they can’t get away with this kind of egregious behaviour.”

Also, the union filed a complaint to confirm an award it received in November dealing with subcontracting of passenger services.

The arbitrator ruled in favour of the union and ordered the company to cease and desist from subcontracting any passenger flight.

If Atlas Air wishes to do this kind of flying, the union says the company’s management must negotiate, and protect customers to ensure spare aircraft are available.