Pilots employed by the Ypsilanti based cargo airline, Kalitta Air, have overwhelmingly passed a resolution of no confidence in the management of Kalitta Air.
Kalitta Air operates a fleet of Boeing 747 aircraft in support of the global network of DHL Express, a division of the German logistics company, Deutsche Post DHL. Ninety-seven percent voted in favor of the resolution, with 217 pilots voting for the resolution and only 7 voting against it.
“We have reached a crisis point at Kalitta. The pilots have no faith in our management team’s ability to lead the airline,” said Scott Nelson, the elected chairman of the Kalitta Air Executive Council of APA Teamsters Local 1224. “The pilots I represent believe that Kalitta management is a threat to their jobs, customers like DHL and the survival of the airline itself.”
The resolution the pilots supported stated: “The management of Kalitta Air, by and through their poor judgment, bad labor relations decisions, disrespect for union representatives and contempt for line pilots, has tarnished the good reputation of Kalitta Air.” It also accused management of “undermining the ability of Kalitta Air to attract and retain quality pilots in an increasingly tight labor market…and provoking a more serious labor dispute that will do harm to the good will of the business and undermine customer confidence in Kalitta Air.”
Negotiations between Kalitta and the union representing the pilots are currently taking place under the supervision of the National Mediation Board. In April, after a proposal was rejected by union representatives at the bargaining table, the management team sent contract proposals directly to the pilots. The pilots responded negatively to the rejected proposals and the company’s decision to circumvent the union produced a backlash from the pilots, resulting in the vote of no confidence.
“By doing an end run around the union, Kalitta management has made it more difficult to reach agreement on a new contract,” said Daniel C. Wells, President of APA Teamsters Local 1224. “Now we have to deal with more issues in negotiations than we did before management deliberately tried to sabotage negotiations.”
Mediation efforts resume in St. Louis, Mo., May 10-12. Ninety-seven percent of Kalitta pilots have already voted to authorize a strike against the airline. ABX, Inc., Atlas Air, Inc. and Southern Air, Inc. also perform flight operations in support of the DHL Express global network. Union leadership at those carriers has pledged to support the Kalitta pilots in the event of a strike.
The pilot group is represented by the Airline Professionals Association, Teamsters Local 1224, which is affiliated with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Airline Division.