The NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots (NJASAP) has filed a lawsuit against luxury jet carrier Netjets. The lawsuit accuses NetJets of attempting to suppress union-related pilot speech in violation of federal labor law.
NJASAP is the labor organization representing the 3,000-plus pilots employed by Berkshire Hathaway’s NetJets.
Their complaint was filed yesterday in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, after NetJets threatened to discipline pilots for referring customers to the Union’s website.
The central issue
NJASAP filed yesterday’s lawsuit in response to NetJets’s threat to discipline or to discharge pilots for referring aircraft owners and customers to the union’s website when they ask questions about contract negotiations.
The Union website provides visitors with information about the sustained U.S. pilot shortage, the status of negotiations between the parties and how career earnings at NetJets compare to the airlines.
On March 8, 2023, NetJets Chief Operating Officer Alan Bobo sent an email to NetJets pilots accusing them of violating the carrier’s work rules.
Union representatives asked NetJets how pilots should respond if they are asked questions about contract negotiations and related issues.
However, NetJets refused to respond to the union’s questions and did not lift the ban on speaking about the website.
“The aircraft owners and customers we fly engage our pilots in conversations every day, including about their jobs and a wide variety of other topics,” NJASAP President Capt. Pedro Leroux said.
“It is only natural that they would ask us for basic information about our current labor dispute when they see picketers.”
“Referring to a union website is a professional and legal way to respond to their questions. We believe NetJet’s discriminatory ban on union-related speech is unprofessional and illegal.”
While prohibiting pilots from speaking about the union website, NetJets President of Sales, Marketing and Service Patrick Gallagher, on April 19, sent an email to hundreds of NetJets employees claiming the pilot union’s leadership is out of touch with its members.
“NJASAP stands ready to resolve our disputes with NetJets in the best interest of pilots, the company we work for and the people who depend on us for world class safety and service,” Leroux said.
“What we will not stand for is an attack on our members’ workplace speech rights or their federally protected right to elect union leaders without management interference.”
NetJets is a private jet charter company that operates as a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, the multinational conglomerate owned by Warren Buffett.
The company was founded in 1964 by Richard Santulli, who developed the concept of fractional jet ownership. Under the fractional ownership model, customers can purchase a share in a private jet and use it for a set number of hours per year.
NetJets then manages the operation of the aircraft, including maintenance, crew, and scheduling. This allows customers to enjoy the benefits of private jet travel without the costs and responsibilities associated with owning a whole aircraft.
The company operates a fleet of over 700 aircraft, including various models of jets and turboprops, ranging from small to large cabin sizes. The company serves over 170 countries and has bases in several locations around the world, including the United States, Europe, and Asia.
In addition to fractional ownership, NetJets also offers jet card programs, where customers can purchase a set number of hours or flights on a specific type of aircraft.
The company also offers on-demand charter services for customers who need a private jet for a specific trip or occasion.
The company has previously received numerous safety awards and certifications, including the ARGUS Platinum Rating, the highest safety rating in the private aviation industry.