Atlas Air, pilots’ union agree to direct negotiations

Atlas Air World Wide (AAWW) and Teamsters Local 1224, which represents the carrier’s pilots, are returning to the negotiating table. The two parties have agreed on a process by which to begin direct negotiations for a single labor contract covering crew members for both subsidiary carriers Atlas Air and Southern Air.

This development ends more than a year of acrimonious relations between the two parties. The next step will be to settle on dates to begin negotiations.

Atlas Air’s manager for marketing and corporate communications, Elizabeth Roach, told Air Cargo World that, “We are pleased to confirm the statement by Teamsters Local 1224 that we have mutually agreed on a process to begin direct negotiations for a single labor contract covering both our Atlas Air and Southern Air crew members.”

“The news here is that a new framework agreement is in place that is agreeable to both the company and the union,” said Mike Griffith, chair of the Local 1224 Atlas Communications Committee. “The union is ready to go.”

Negotiations broke down last year and, in theory, either party could walk away from this agreement as well. This time around, however, the stakes are higher than ever before, as competition for pilots heats up in a decidedly busy time for airfreight.

The union’s communique said that the new agreement “greatly enhances the likelihood that we will indeed succeed in reaching an agreement through direct negotiations.” It added that even if the negotiations break down, and the parties wind up in an interest arbitration, “the parties’ process agreement greatly mitigates the risk that an arbitration will impose terms on the pilots that are out of sync with other contracts in today’s market environment.”

The other major development in this arena (unrelated to the agreement) is that the single-operator certificate that Atlas had been pushing for has now been, “put off indefinitely,” according to Griffith. This means that Atlas will continue to run Southern Air separately from Atlas and Polar.

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