Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Skybus Airlines pilots want a union

Skybus logoPilots at low-fare carrier Skybus Airlines appear to be on the verge of unionizing. A Columbus Dispatch article on the subject reports that more than 80 percent of Skybus pilots are in favor of voting to join the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT).

Quoting from the Columbus Dispatch article:
Skybus, which was notified late last week of the action, said in a statement that the company is surprised to be facing a "union organizing effort when the airline industry is dealing with a slowing economy and oil prices" that are nearly $108 a barrel.

"We believe that a majority of our pilots will understand that we are better served focusing on building a start-up airline in a very competitive environment than we are going down a path that for other airlines has led to contentious labor-management issues," the statement said.

The starting salary for a Skybus captain is $65,000, while a less-senior first officer makes $30,000 to start. Pilots say those amounts are as much as 50 percent below industry standards, and Skybus pilots say the airline is not offering second-year pay increases. Still, Skybus has been able to attract experienced pilots with stock options and the opportunity to be home every night, because all planes return to either Columbus or the second base of Greensboro, N.C.
The article goes on to say that a spokeswoman for the airline division of the Teamsters "confirmed that the union has collected more than the required number of cards from Skybus pilots to proceed." More than 100 of the 120 Skybus pilots who are eligible to vote are said to have submitted cards favoring union membership. The next step would be a formal vote, supervised by the National Mediation Board. A simple majority vote in favor of joining the union would be required in order for the measure to be passed.