Republic airlines file federal suit against pilots union

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Three airlines operated by Indianapolis-based Republic Airways Holdings Inc. are suing a pilots union over a website they say is damaging their reputation and hindering efforts to hire pilots.

Chautauqua Airlines Inc., Republic Airline Inc. and Shuttle America Inc. want a federal judge to issue a permanent injunction forcing the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 357 to take the website down.

The airlines charge in their lawsuit filed Wednesday that the site, www.RAHContractNow.org, makes several false statements meant to scare away prospective pilots.

Republic Airways and the union have been locked in contentious contract negotiations since 2007, as pilots continue to work without a new agreement.

Pilots complain they haven’t had a pay raise in more than four years, and they want better scheduling and seniority rights.

In December 2010, the union withdrew its negotiating proposals and tentative agreements, and negotiations started over again. The airlines and the union have been in mediation under the oversight of the National Mediation Board since June 2011.

Due to a shortage of pilots, the airlines said in their suit that they’ve recently begun recruiting new ones amid a very competitive market. But the union launched the website in an effort to disrupt the recruiting efforts, the airlines charged.

“As a result of these inaccurate statements,” the airlines said, “Republic has had an increase in the number of pilots who have not called back for interviews and dropped out of the application process.”

A spokeswoman for the union said it could not comment on pending litigation.

The airlines said the website falsely states that in the event of a strike they will fire probationary pilots. The airlines further charge that the union is issuing a veiled threat to prospective pilots by stating on the site that accepting jobs with the airlines would undermine the union’s efforts to disrupt their operations.

“Pilots who read this will reasonably conclude that the union may retaliate against them if they accept employment with plaintiffs,” the airlines’ complaint said.

They said it takes about three months to recruit and train a pilot. If the airlines are unable to recruit enough pilots now, they argued, service will be interrupted.

The airlines charge that the union is violating state and federal labor laws, and also allege that it is committing breach of contract and defamation.

In addition to the injunction, they seek monetary damages.

The three airlines filed the suit in the U.S. District Court Southern District of Indiana in Indianapolis.


  • Update
    The person from Republic Airways actually called me and was contrite, so I respect that. I forgive this person. As far as the issue with the pilots' contract goes (and by the way this person has nothing to do with the pilot contract issue it was something entirely separate), I am still on the pilots' side and believe they should have a top-notch contract! Pilots work extremely hard and keep everyone on the airplanes safe!!
  • 100% in Support of Pilots
    I just want to say that I am 100% in support of the pilots and I greatly respect & admire them! They deserve MUCH better than this!! You really can't pay them enough in my opinion. I also have to say that I was recently on the telephone with someone in management at Republic Airways who will remain nameless...but no one has ever spoken to me in such a rude, nasty, borderline hostile manner as this person! I work with the public and I have never heard anyone in my workplace (even the more disagreeable people) speak to someone like that. If they ever did, there would be serious consequences. That is not how you speak to the public. So now reading about how RA treats its pilots...I'm done with them. Pilots, you deserve a STELLAR contract.....nothing less!! I'm on your side; I've got your back!
    • Really sad story
      I might go back to my previous career (different industry = better pay), there is not future on this one....I wonder what Jimmy Hoffa would had done on this situation ?
    • You're not a Pilot
      So, your wife and daughter spent well over a hundred thousand dollars for their career education? If you're not a pilot then you don't have a clue about this discussion!
    • Good idea
      I flew there for 7 months and it was the worst experience of my career. They are constantly understaffed and if you're on reserve, you're just a tool for scheduling; something to be used and then discarded. If you have a solid instructing job, by all means, keep it!
    • Thanks!
      Thanks for the heads up. As a 1300 hr CFI, jobs are starting to appear. I WILL NOT leave my comfy $35/hr instructing job to work for a company like this. Low pay the first year I may accept, but no cancellation pay and a long upgrade I will leave for someone else. I'd rather spend 2 or 3 more years instructing and wait for a job I can live with.
      • Its time to go...
        I can't describe how much I hated that place! I use to dream about things that I would do to BB, WH and that a-hole frome scheduling... Things that I can't even say out loud. But instead of waiting for the the union that, I have no faith to begin with, to make my life better, I took the matters in my own hands and left... It's the worst that I could do to those guys, 'cause they had to find someone else to replace me and spend about 30K to train him/her. Granted, there is always someone out there that would take my job, but if all or majority of you would leave, they will suffer a lot more. Trust me, there are jobs out there, you just have to look for it and apply... Worst case you can always go to GoJets and upgrade in a year. Just bail guys! And let BB fly his jets by himself with his commercial SE license...
      • Ez
        Next time your at work think about at the end of your day going to a hotel after work for the next four days with out pay also with no friends or family in sight oh ya your room will not be ready when you get off work from your 12 to 14 hour shift also what about the only place you see on your over nights is your room and the airport because your so tired and you need sleep to keep the aircraft on the the center line in the morrning. And next time your at the airport look at the price of food ya we get a big 10% discount to help pay for are taxes but that's it and where are we most of are 12 to 14 hour trips well the airport..8
      • Let the passengers know.
        A comment to SII. Call the news and let the people know when you go to the food stamp office. Passengers often have no clue what all is going on in the airline industry.
        If you are reading this and you are a passenger I would recommend for you to check the reputation of the airline you plan to fly on. If you don't like what you see you will have the option as a consumer of flying on a different airline or even using a different mode of transportation.
        Your life literally lies in the hands of the crew and you want that crew to be rested and happy.
      • HA!!
        LOL @ "Cry Babies" comments.

        Dude, get yourself to the ER stat. You have overdosed on the Kool-Aid.

        I'm sorry if your wife and daughter are content with being paid poverty wages. The majority of us are not and choose to do something about it.

        I WILL be at the food stamp office IN UNIFORM right before I leave the company.

        Oh, and to your comment about "just leave". Many are, and others are in the process -- hence the reason there is a need for pilots. Duh.
        • RAH Are A-Holes
          Sure, they'll always be able to find pilots. The company will just need to drastically lower the minimum requirements and you will have some kid with 200 hours flying around 99 unsuspecting passengers.

          I can tell you one thing. As an FA, I won't be on that plane.
        • Food Stamps for Airline Pilots
          I actually remember a time when Gulstream Airlines Pilots went to get their foodstamps while wearing their Pilot uniforms and they got fired from their jobs for doing so...
        • Be Smart
          Considering Mr. "Be Content" has family in the business, it's surprising that he doesn't know how important accruing seniority is, and that is the major reason many people haven't left Republic for other airlines, or to go "flip burgers at McDonalds".
        • Will not work for Republic
          I consider myself an experienced Pilot with an ATP, Type Rating, Flight Instructing, Night Cargo, Airline, Corporate, and unscheduled Air Taxi experience. I have been flying airplanes for more than 20 years and have left the industry due to low pay and bad working conditions for Pilots all over this great nation.
          I would rather starve and eat grass than work for Republic Airlines!
          Just my two cents...
        • To Rick E
          In response to your insightful comment that Republic pilots can't get hired elsewhere:

          Currently they are averaging 30 pilots a month leaving, so nice try, but you're Frontier buddy telling you all this stuff is feeding you a ton of lies.
        • George
          Rick E, the word you are getting in the "cargo world" is completely false. The Frontier pilots are completely bitter about how the seniority lists were merged, therefore have lots of lies to tell based more on anger & less on truth. The Republic pilots cant wait for Frontier to be sold off because it has been nothing short of a disaster. Republic was making $100mil a year prior to buying Frontier, now they're lucky to break even. All the $ earned by those evil Republic pilots flying codeshare routes is the only reason Frontier even still exists.
        • George
          Yea & I'm sure you & your daughter had to get a 4 year degree PLUS spend an additional $60,000 in flight costs on top of the cost of college to get a job here, just like the pilots did, right? So I'm sure you're also paying $500 a month in student loans like all the FOs that are making $32,000 a year, right?
        • Cry Babies
          omg, my wife and daugher both work for Republic. We love it and think its a great place to work except for the union. Best health insurance we have ever had. The company pays about $800 toward our plan.Quit if your not happy. Get gone, go , leave... Remember your crappy attitude when your flipping burgers at McDonalds.
          • Senior
            The word we have been getting in the cargo world is that Republic pilots are trying to take the jobs away from the frontier pilots.
            Why would anyone want to hire pilots like that?
            Their is usually a reason that there are way senior pilots at republic. Most can't get thru an interview
            • Strike vote
              The actual number of the strike vote was 99.25% in favor of a strike.
            • Not inaccurate
              I flew for Republic for almost twelve years. Only recently has some limited hiring begun at major airlines. As a very senior captain, I took the first offer I was given, with a 60% pay cut, just to get out of there. I am now a copilot at my new company, at the bottom of a new seniority list and face the likelihood of furlough in the next two or three months. I would rather be furloughed from this company than fly for Republic.

              The Republic pilots recently held a strike authorization vote. Over 98% of the pilots participated in the referendum and 98% of those voted in favor of a strike. That is not a happy group.

              I read the "rahcontractnow" website, and while the final determination is up to the lawyers and the judge, I saw nothing in the content that was inaccurate.
            • Still No Contract?
              Even us with Shiny Jet Syndrome (SJS) were shocked to see RAH still dragging this out. It is 2012 now! Remember when they were still trying to figure out the definition of 'seat'?

            • RAH rocks
              RAH rocks because they have ERJ 190s with engines under the wings like mainline Airbusses.
            • True facts
              As far as leaving for something greener.. That is not easy to do in the aviation industry because when you move to another airline you must start over at the bottom of the pay scale. In other words, no credit is given for your past experience toward pay. So moving to another airline only makes things worse because seniority is all you have at a company. Having previously worked for Republic I can attest to the things that the union has stated about the company. For those outside aviation how would you like your pay stay the same for 4-5 years? All the pilots want is fair pay and working conditions. But the company doesn't see it that way. There proposals have been what equals 2007 pay or worse!!
            • Yes, It is True
              Pilots flying for Republic Airlines start out at $24K/yr to fly a $20 million dollar 70-99 seat passenger jets that are have one of the most sophisticated flight decks in the world. Many are on state assistance and qualify for food stamps.

              These pilots are simply asking for a wage commensurate with the job and equipment they operate.
            • Yes
              100% true... Our pay is scarry. You pay more for a family of 3 to eat cheese steaks in the terminal, than my FO gets to fly you from Philadelphia to Indianapolis.
              • really?
                I just checked out the website this article quoted. Is it true airline pilots make so little?
                • They fire probationary pilots
                  To refute the claim that the company wouldn't fire probationary pilots, they did just that after 9/11.

                  Instead of laying off, which would have resulted in unemployment insurance they would have had to pay in to, they chose to fire probationary pilots.

                  No opinion, no sway...just fact.

                  I know because I was one of them.

                • Grass Is Greener
                  To the person that asking why we don't quite and find a job if the grass is truly greener....we can't. The airline industry isn't your typical 9-5 job. There are requirements that are only gained by working for a regional airline before moving to a major carrier. Because of the economy what would normally take 1-2 years to accomplish is now taking 5-6. Putting up with poorer work conditions weren't so bad when you knew you could get out. There is a lot of research that must be done to fully understand what's going on.
                • Republic Airline Article
                  IBJ: FYI I sent this out to my airline group of 5,000 members.
                  Men & Women:

                  What the Indiana Business Journal fails to tell you is the fact the Republic Airlines just hired Bugsy Siegel to run Frontier Airlines a raider of raiders and one of the poorest aviation manager’s next to Parker, Kirby, Bular, etc. Maybe the IBJ needs to pull up news from the Charlotte newspapers and The Street to get the latest developments.

                  Also, they forgot to tell you about the 3,000+ senior airline pilots (a majority of combat Veterans) who were put out on the street due to the FAA Age 60+ rule over 5 years ago while other younger pilots were allowed to fly until they were 65 years old.

                  US Airways also controls a lot of what Republic does, since they utilize Republic Airlines on a daily basis on many of their commuter flights.

                  Then we have US Airways trying to take control of American Airlines which is poor timing for this union conflict to be happening. Strife, internal calamity and safety issues doesn’t enter into their overall business plan, especially when paying Captains, First Officers and flight attendants what they deserve is not a good subject be talking about.

                  Gosh..I just saw a letter the other day on how much the US Air executives make each year not to mention those secretive bonuses.

                  Personally, I think Republic Airlines is a well run airline, but they need some senior leaders that can get them headed back in the right direction.
                  Hiring David Siegel to ruin Frontier Airlines is not the way to operate a great airline on any given day.

                  ALPA (AFL-CIO) the pilots union screwed many of us out of our jobs in 2006 along with Congressman Oberstar and Marion Blakey to cut a deal with the devil and now their membership has plummeted.
                • Confused
                  So I'll say right up front I dont know much about unions so maybe that is why this is happening. But I'm really confused on why, if the situation is so bad as people say, that they dont leave? I mean if my company sucked to work for, I would find a new job. If the grass was truly greener on the other side, go there?

                  Again, maybe something stops the pilots from doing this because of union rules...but this isent the military...you should be able to quit and find new work no?
                  • Wow
                    I would never in a million years let my son work as a pilot for this company under their current work rules and wages. Unbelievable!
                  • The truth
                    Unfortunately everything on said website is true. It's time for this company to step up and pay their pilots a respectable wage through a new contract.
                  • the company's actions ...
                    ... are just ridiculous. Maybe they should stop firing GREAT PILOTS without cause, reason and facts, and stop forcing resignations for silly attendance issues ... the company (BB and WH) has made RAH a horrendous place to work and start a career and they wonder why pilots (for the last 9 years that I've known RAH) leave in droves or dont show up for training ... maybe looking for new ways to make it miserable at RAH is what gave WH a heart attack....
                  • That place is a sinking ship
                    Flight attendants and First officers can qualify for food stamps....The CEO has a basketball court in his house. Something aint right.
                  • none
                    The airline is worried about being unable to find pilots? That's not a logical worry-- there are people who would take no pay just so they can be an airline pilot and go throught the terminal wearing their bars and cap-- why else would anyone sign up to be one, working crappy hours, for $24,000 per year?

                    I don't think Republic has anything to worry about. There will always be people who will do the job for next to nothing.

                    Their pilots do deserve a raise, though, I'll give the union that.

                    By the way, Republic should know that their recruiting/HR department is doing more to turn people away-- I know someone who had an interview, and called a certain person at Republic, and the first words out of her mouth were, "Are you calling to cancel?" -- wow, if he wasn't, I think that would be a red flag that maybe he should.

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