The Teamsters Airline Division and Teamsters Local 284 are concerned that NetJets management is ignoring a growing shortage of qualified aircraft mechanics to the detriment of customers, workers and the business itself.
“Senior aircraft technicians are telling the management that they need more mechanics in the field, but management is ignoring their advice,” said Chris Moore, Chairman of the Teamsters Aviation Mechanics Coalition.
“Instead of trying to recruit and retain the mostly highly skilled technicians, the company refuses to pay industry-standard wages and continues to outsource high levels of critical maintenance. The situation on the shop floor at NetJets is going from bad to worse every day. These maintenance workers are angry at management and they have run out of patience.”
NetJets mechanics and other safety employees have not received a pay increase for more than five years. The company and the union have been in contract negotiations for nearly six years.
The union blames management’s outsourcing philosophy and low-pay proposals for the delay. NetJets Aviation and NetJets Sales only employ 111 aircraft mechanics to work on its fleet of approximately 400 aircraft. Other major airlines employ up to 10 mechanics for every one aircraft.
“We don’t believe that the customers have all the facts when it comes to who is performing the maintenance on their aircraft,” said Mark Vandak, President of Local 284 in Columbus.
“The reality of the situation is that the majority of people performing critical aircraft maintenance don’t work for NetJets. When our members complain, they’re told that NetJets isn’t in the maintenance business. NetJets flies airplanes for profit. That makes no sense whatsoever.”
In contract negotiations, management continues to reject union proposals that would result in the assignment of more critical maintenance functions to mechanics, as well as measures that would support workers employed by NetJets.
Mechanics say that they sit idle while individuals who work for third parties perform maintenance procedures on customer aircraft, sometimes at the very same location where skilled NetJets technicians are located.
“It’s unacceptable that NetJets has caused a situation where its own highly skilled aircraft technicians and maintenance support workers have to try to convince management to assign them critical maintenance work at competitive wages,” said Capt. David Bourne, Director of the Teamsters Airline Division.
“The customers pay for a premium service. We believe they expect NetJets to have a well-developed, in-house maintenance system staffed by highly paid aircraft maintenance professionals. With a worsening shortage of qualified mechanics, management needs to work with us, not against us, to solve a very real problem.”
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Teamsters Airline Division and Local 284 represent mechanics, maintenance control, aircraft fuelers, aircraft cleaners and stock clerks. The Columbus-based business jet operator is owned by Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway.