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Heather McCann (General Secretary), François Ponçot, Mike Jenvey and
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Company breached trust of workers, customers, Warren Buffett
(COLUMBUS) – In legal papers sent to the NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots (NJASAP), NetJets, Inc., said a vice president published vicious anti-union content on social media throughout a four-year period. NJASAP is the labor union representing 2,700-plus pilots employed by the Columbus, Ohio-based carrier. In December, the Union filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio accusing the Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A and BRK.B) subsidiary of using social media to conduct a massive unlawful campaign to harass and intimidate pilots. NetJets provides business and leisure travel on private luxury business jets to its wealthy customers, including Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett.
“The aviation industry is based on trust. Lives depend on it,” NJASAP President Pedro Leroux said. “Passengers trust pilots to operate aircraft in accordance with the highest safety standards. Pilots trust flight attendants to carry out critical safety procedures in the cabin. Crews trust mechanics, flight dispatchers and other ground personnel. We all need to be able to trust the managers and senior executives responsible for the safety of operations. NetJets’s conduct, including CEO Jordan Hansell’s incredible claim that the vice president acted alone, breached the trust of the entire workforce, customers and Warren Buffett and jeopardizes the viability of NetJets.”
After a Twitter account with the handle “TwinkieTheKid” was activated, NetJets hung Twinkie snack cakes next to photographs of pilots on the walls of its corporate offices, where they still remain. However, Hansell claims NetJets did not become aware of the Twitter content until after the Union filed the lawsuit. The Twitter account was used to intimidate pilots and their families. Blogs falsely blamed the Teamsters Union for thousands of job losses at Hostess Brands, Inc., following a 2012 bankruptcy and threatened the same fate awaited NetJets workers if pilots did not accept deep concessions at the highly profitable carrier. The lawsuit also accuses NetJets of conducting illegal surveillance of pilots, threatening to blacklist them and other illegal conduct designed to cripple NJASAP.
“Admitting one of their own was behind the social media accounts used to harass and threaten pilots and their family members confirms that NetJets has been operating outside the boundaries of the law and basic decency,” Leroux said. “NetJets is responsible for page after page of hateful propaganda that demonized its own pilots, flight attendants, mechanics and flight dispatchers, mocked hardworking Americans in other occupations, and threatened that NetJets pilots would lose their jobs for exercising rights enjoyed by all workers in the United States. We are very confident the evidence will prove the vice president was no ‘lone wolf.’”
In court filings, NetJets originally defended the social media content detailed in the Union’s lawsuit, describing it as “competitive jockeying and sharp bargaining.” However, on April 21, several hours before NetJets was required to respond to NJASAP discovery requests, Hansell sent a letter to the Union apologizing for the content and claimed NetJets was unaware of the multi-year, anti-union campaign conducted via Twitter and blogs. The vice president blamed by Hansell reported directly to senior managers of the company. NJASAP is seeking thousands of documents and computer records from NetJets and plans to depose Hansell and other high ranking company officials. Union officials vow to expose the roles other managers played in the effort to intimidate pilots and crush their Union.
About NJASAP: Founded in 2008 as an independent labor advocate, the NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots (NJASAP) represents the professional interests of the 2,700-plus pilots who fly in the service of NetJets Aviation, Inc., a Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary. For more information, visit our web site, www.njasap.com, Facebook page, www.facebook.com/njasap, or Twitter feed, @njasap.
Source: NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots (NJASAP)
Joining is quick and easy. You can do it right here on this website. We are a low cost Union. We are a group of NetJets pilots working for free for our fellow Colleagues. We spend our Members' money only on essential things such as legal advice, accounting, IT infrastructure and travel. As a result, our Members pay a lot less than the Union dues normally charged by more traditional Unions. If you are still undecided you can read the Q&As and send us an email with any questions or concerns you may have. Our email addresses are right here on this website.
Today the Central Arbitration Committee declared that Skyshare is recognised by NetJets Management Ltd. as entitled to conduct collective bargaining on behalf of all pilots employed by NetJets Management Ltd.
Both sides now have until February 1st to agree on a method by which they will conduct collective bargaining. If no agreement is reached the CAC will decide for the parties.
I am currently away on vacation until the new year but will update you as soon as more information becomes available.
I would like to thank all of you for your fantastic support. Without it we would not have been able to achieve this.
I wish all of you happy Christmas and all the best for the New Year.
P.S. The full CAC decision should be available on the CAC website soon.
We are very pleased to be able to report that Skyshare was able to successfully defend the CAC's decision in our favour.
The judicial review (appeal) which NetJets had applied for was decided in our favour by the High Court today.
You may remember that NetJets had applied for a judicial review of an earlier CAC decision with regards to the territorial applicability of our application for statutory (forced) recognition. Although Skyshare was not the defendant (the CAC was) we argued the CAC's case as “interested party” because the CAC itself did not defend their decision.
This is obviously great news and shows once again that perseverance does pay off. We are now even closer to recognition than we were just a few days ago.
However, NetJets has indicated that they are going to seek permission to (once again) appeal this decision. This permission to appeal must be granted either by the High Court or the Court of Appeal. We intend to continue to defend your essential right to bargain collectively and will keep you informed as soon as we learn more.
The CAC will now decide whether or not a ballot will be held. In either case, with your continued support, Skyshare will be your recognised Union in the not too distant future.
All the best
Skyshare Executive Committee
Great news from the CAC: Following the hearing regarding the bargaining unit, the CAC have once again decided in Skyshare's favour and have accepted our proposed bargaining unit of all pilots employed by NetJets Management Ltd.
You may have read our COO's latest message commenting on this decision. In his email he says that he is concerned that this bargaining unit (consisting of 777 pilots, the vast majority of all crew members employed by NetJets in Europe) may create tension between crew. We find this remarkable, keeping in mind that the company had submitted that only those crew members with gateways in the UK should be included in the bargaining unit. That would have been a much smaller group and would have been much more likely to lead to a division amongst us.
He also mentions the fact that by law the UK CAC cannot decide to include those employed by NTA as opposed to NJM Ltd. Knowing that there are hardly any line pilots left with a Portuguese contract, we find it difficult to understand what his concern might be. Furthermore, nothing will prevent the company from applying the same negotiated conditions to our PT colleagues.
We have previously explained why we have chosen not to include cabin crew in the bargaining unit at this time. Not only are the qualifications and job markets for pilots and flight attendants quite different, but cabin crew have only joined Skyshare in small numbers and we thought it would not be right to force our cabin crew colleagues into recognition when they haven't expressed the desire to be represented by Skyshare.
Very soon the CAC will decide whether or not a ballot will be required. We will of course update you as soon as we have a decision.
Thank you for your continued support and all the best!
Skyshare Executive Committee
This is a quick update to inform you that the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) has decided in Skyshare's favour following the hearing on the 16th of March this year.
As you might remember, the company had submitted to the CAC that our application should not be accepted based on an insufficient connection of our employment with Great Britain.
The CAC has decided that this is not the case:
Quotes from the CAC decision:
“The Panel notes that in this case the Union meets the statutory requirement of having a certificate of independence and the Employer is a company which is registered in Great Britain. The contract between the workers in the proposed bargaining unit and the Employer is governed by English law and is subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the English courts; includes terms relating to pay, hours and holidays; and applies to everyone in the proposed bargaining unit. All members of the proposed bargaining unit are subject to National Insurance contributions in Great Britain. The Panel considers that the connection of workers within the proposed bargaining unit, taken as a group, with Great Britain is sufficiently strong for the Union to be able to seek recognition to be entitled to conduct collective bargaining on their behalf.”
“The Panel’s decision is that there are no territorial restrictions relevant to whether the application for recognition by the Union in respect of the proposed bargaining unit in this case should be accepted.”
We think that this is a very positive outcome for Skyshare and its members and a major step towards recognition.
We will update you on the next steps very soon.
Thank you for your continued support. Without it, we would never have come so far.
Skyshare Executive Committee
Last Friday two executive members represented Skyshare at a formal meeting conducted by the Central Arbitration Committee(CAC) in the UK. They were at the meeting to support our petition to enable Skyshare to be your bargaining group in the company. Presenting their opposition to our case were Alec Werner and his legal team. One of the most important parts of that meeting was to establish the territorial aspects of Skyshare. That is, do we have legitimate rights and protections under English law (like our contract states) or not? The company argues that we do not have significant ties to the UK in spite of being employed by NetJets Management Limited, London.
We are now following a highly regulated and legal path as laid down by the CAC. We will know the decision from yesterday’s meeting hopefully by the end of March. Once we have that decision, we will know the next step.
We have had to do this as the voluntary process was not going to be fair or equitable to you all. The company wanted to go outside the legal guidelines stipulated by the CAC. We felt that this was unacceptable and against the spirit of voluntary and harmonious recognition. We have attempted to be fair, generous and flexible during this process but sadly, the senior Directors did not want to show us the same respect or courtesy.
It is important to remind ourselves that the senior Directors do not want the recognition of Skyshare or any other union. So we therefore ask you to consider this fact whilst reading company communication about this process.
One more time we would like to repeat that our intention is and has always been to work in a cooperative way with the company. We struggle to understand why they are so opposed to us and are fighting us in front of the CAC. This is particularly intriguing when they say that they were ready for a ballot few weeks ago. This, we feel, displays their true intent of delays and obstruction.
Members can read a summary of the hearing in the members-only section of this website.
Thanks again for your support and your patience.
Skyshare Executive Committee
It is with regret that we have to inform you that NetJets and Skyshare were unable to agree on the terms of a joint recognition ballot.
As you know we have had three meetings with ACAS in London to discuss recognition with the company.
After some initial progress one important point of discussion remained.
This was the question: “What constitutes a win?”. On the face of it this may seem simple. The obvious answer would be “a majority”. However, there have to be provisions that protect against a very low turnout (voter participation).
Let's imagine for a moment that only 20% of those who are entitled to vote do vote. Now let's assume that just over half of those who do vote, are in favour of collective bargaining. This would mean that just over 10% of the bargaining unit would be able to vote a union in.
To prevent such a scenario, the UK CAC has added a second requirement. The first is obviously a majority of all votes received. The second one is a requirement of 40% YES votes received as a percentage of the whole bargaining unit, that means everyone who is entitled to vote. This is not to be confused with 40% turnout or 40% of those who do vote.
As an example, let’s assume: The bargaining unit is 1000 people. 700 people do vote and 380 vote YES. That would be a majority, but less than 40% of the whole bargaining unit. Under the CAC rules that would not be enough for the Union to win recognition. 400 YES-votes would be the minimum.
We have always said that we want both sides to be bound by these rules. They are the ones followed during statutory (forced) recognition, and we don't see why they should not apply to the voluntary process.
The company however insisted that only a 50%+1 YES votes as a percentage of the whole bargaining unit (not as a percentage of votes cast) should constitute a win.
Let's look at our example again: out of 1000 people, 70% do vote, a good turnout. Of those 700 people who do vote, 450 (a clear majority) are in favour of Union recognition. Under the rules proposed by the company, that clear majority would not be sufficient to recognise the Union despite the high turnout.
This is not acceptable for Skyshare. We don't know if management ever intended to conduct a fair ballot but those conditions are not fair. In any democratic election, only the votes cast are counted. Following the company's idea of democracy, neither Merkel, nor Cameron or Sarkozy would be in power today.
Therefore we have today asked our lawyer to inform the CAC that we want to resume the statutory recognition process that had been on hold since last October.
As you know, the company has previously submitted to the CAC that they think our employment is not based in the UK nor anywhere else for this matter and that therefore the UK CAC should not have jurisdiction over this case. For a company that claims to be bound by the highest ethical standards this is surprising to say the least. You can expect to hear about a public CAC hearing on this issue in the near future.
It is important to note that we were willing to meet the company half-way on other issues surrounding the ballot but the company's position on what constitutes a majority remained firm and left us no other choice.
You can expect to read a company communication saying that they were prepared to continue talks through ACAS but this little bit of background info should allow you to put such a statement into perspective. They might also say that if the support for Skyshare was indeed as solid as claimed, we should have agreed to their proposal. I am sure most of you will agree that their idea of democracy would only work if the ballot turnout was 100%, which we all know it will never be.
Please continue to give Skyshare your support during the upcoming CAC process and do let us know if you have any questions or comments.
All the best
Skyshare Executive Committee
As you know E-mail communications between Skyshare and Management have been somewhat emotional recently. We realise that this is not desirable and have written to our COO suggesting that we start working on restoring the trust that has been damaged in the recent past. We think respectful and truthful communications will be a good first step.
On the 28th of October there will be a CAC hearing in the UK dealing with the company's submission that statutory recognition should not be available to Skyshare because our employment is, in their view, not based in the UK, despite what it says in our employment contracts. Our leagal team is confident that the CAC will disagree and that our application for recognition is admissible.
We will update you on the results and next steps in due course.
Please don't hesitate to contact a member of the team with any questions you might have.
All the best!
Skyshare Executive Committee.
Today we would like to update you on our recognition process.
As you know, we submitted our application for statutory recognition to the CAC on the first of September.
On the 12th of September we received a copy of the response from NetJets Management Ltd.
In their response NJM do not agree with the proposed bargaining unit and try to attack our application form all possible angles.
In a nineteen page document they argue all kinds of points: They say they don't think our membership numbers are accurate, they state that cabin crew should be included in the bargaining unit, they doubt that all members support collective bargaining etc. None of this is new or unexpected.
A new twist however is what they haven't told you in their recent communications. Although we were prepared for this argument we do think it is a scandal:
The company now argues, that the right to apply for recognition under the statutory process does not apply to the pilot's of NJM. They say we are not based in the UK and as a result don't fall under the provisions of the applicable law. They even go as far as saying that we are not based anywhere. Even those with a gateway in the UK are not based there, according to their submission. They state that in fact our employment has little to no connection to the UK because we receive our instructions from Portugal (contrary to what it says in our employment contracts).
We'll let you draw your own conclusions with regards to what kind of management we are dealing with here.
Of course we have responded to all those points to the CAC and we are convinced that statutory recognition must be available to us. Where else would we be able to get collective representation, a fundamental European Human Right? We have also made it clear that our employment contracts make reference to the laws and courts of England and Wales and that NetJets has a rather significant connection to the UK, the country with our largest customer base and home of the city which is our number one destination, London.
Members will be able to download all relevant correspondence from the documents section on www.skyshare.eu.
Please be assured that we will continue to fight for your right to collective representation.
Together we will succeed!
Please don't hesitate to get in touch with any questions or comments you may have.
All the best!
Skyshare Executive Committee
Today we would like to inform you about our progress and Skyshare's position on the ERS survey.
As you may be aware we had offered management to cooperate on a joint survey that both sides agree on in terms of content, timing and other details.
Unfortunately management have not taken us up on our offer and have once again tried to dictate how to deal with that issue. They did offer to link to this website from Bom Dia and encouraged us to post on NetChats. However, we don't think that's the same as being able to send emails to all employees via the company mail server. This communication disadvantage would no doubt affect the results. The company can make false or misleading statements about Skyshare that we cannot adequately reply to all colleagues.
Management have said it was absurd to not be happy with ERS as the service provider for this survey. The truth is we have never said that we had a problem with ERS. What we do have a problem with is the fact that management are unwilling to work with us rather than against us.
We think the ERS survey is flawed in many ways. In fact the company refers to it as a ballot. Does that mean that it is a vote? That would mean that the results would have to be respected and implemented possibly leading to voluntary recognition of Skyshare. Management have never been clear about what they are intending to do with the results of this ballot/survey.
As you may know there is a legal process for statutory recognition under UK labour law. Basically it involves submitting an application to the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) who will determine the membership level within the bargaining unit and will award recognition if it is above 50%. If it is below 50% they initiate a postal ballot. Having said that we fail to understand why management are keen to do their own ballot now. If they were so sure of their claims that we have less than 50% membership, why don't they just wait for the official numbers from the CAC?
Our COO recently wrote that the reason for doing the survey now was to resolve the matter as quickly as possible. While we are also interested in a quick resolution, we think it is wrong to include 152 pilots who are in the process of leaving the company in a ballot of such importance. That's why we are planning to submit our application to the CAC when most of these colleagues have left the company.
In his recent email, our COO makes a number of accusations against Skyshare leadership that we don't want to comment on.
All we are going to say is: Having a union is a fundamental Human Right in Europe. We think that it is important that you can choose your representation rather than having to live with company dictated pseudo-representation in the form of Outreach. It is our understanding that three reps (two crew and one maintenance) have recently resigned from NetJets and/or Outreach. If true, it would be unfortunate that Management have not informed us of this.
The truth is: Managers come and go and so could Outreach. This means that it is very important to safeguard our terms and conditions from being unilaterally changed in the future. A collective bargaining agreement will serve exactly that purpose.
We are presently preparing the Skyshare Union Elections to be held in October. If you want your voice heard and vote counted, you need to be a member.
As always, we would be happy to hear from you with your comments and questions.
The Skyshare Executive Committee.
We are glad to be able to announce that Skyshare has been issued a Certificate of Independence by the Certification Office for Trade Unions and Employer's Associations in the UK.
As Mr. Crosland has explained in his email today, this completes the required preliminary steps in order for the Union to seek statutory recognition.
Within the next few days we will formally inform our CEO of our receipt of the Certificate of Independence and make a written request for voluntary recognition.
The next steps will depend on his response to our request but may well include a request to the Central Arbitration Committee in the UK to award recognition under the statutory process.
As always, we will keep you informed throughout this process and remain available for any questions or comments you may have.
All the best from the Skyshare Executive Committe
As you may be aware, yesterday I met with two representatives of the Certification Office at our lawyer's office in London. The meeting had been requested by the Certification Officer in order to get to know our Union a bit better before issuing the Certificate of Independence. Our lawyer and I feel that we have satisfactorily answered all their questions and we expect a positive decision within the next four weeks or so.
Once we have the Certificate of Independence we will give the company another opportunity to recognise Skyshare in order to avoid the statutory recognition process, if possible. We think this would be a much better start to our future relationship.
We realise that this process is taking a bit longer than we all would have hoped but this is mainly due to the time the UK authorities take to process our application. However, it is worth reminding ourselves that the results will be well worth the wait and in the long run all that counts is that ultimately we will be the regognised bargaining partner for NetJets Europe flight crew members. I will let you know as soon as we hear back from the Certification Office.
Thomas will soon update you on our progress liaising with BALPA and SPAC through the European Cockpit Association.
All the best
Following Eric Connor's last e-mail to all of us, we would like to highlight a couple of facts that are important to us.
It is not, and has never been, our strategy nor our intention to drag Skyshare into a political e-mail battle with the company. We are not interested in these low level political games and we reject any form of individual attacks that don't bring any value to the debate.
Mark Luthi and his team have been very supportive of Skyshare from the start and have been kind enough to offer their support. Being united is all about solidarity and what better partner could we wish for than someone who knows our industry and NetJets as well as our colleagues at NJASAP?
We believe that it is important to remember why Skyshare has been founded.
Skyshare was founded in order to work hand in hand with the company with the aim of securing our working conditions through a collective agreement that will prevent the company from changing them at will and to help the company to be more efficient in some areas such as safety.
Skyshare is not just about defending us NetJets pilots, it is also about defending our profession. To that end we have introduced Skyshare to Mr. Goudou, the Executive Director of EASA.
Our intention is to work with EASA on future air taxi duty time limits on behalf of our members. We are also liaising with the European Cockpit Association to coordinate our efforts with them.
We would have preferred to avoid the statutory recognition process but were left with no other choice as Mr. Connor has not even given us the courtesy of a meeting with him to discuss our intentions. He has made no effort of talking to us and taking us up on our offer of respectful and constructive dialogue. How can he possibly imply that our intentions are anything but sincere? We also fail to see how we could be a danger to the future of NetJets when we haven’t even made a single demand.
In closing wo would like you to consider that Skyshare is nothing without your support and inputs. We have all made a great deal of effort to make it what it is now. We will not destroy these efforts by entering this battle field the company is trying to drag us on to. Personal attacks are nothing but a desperate act of destruction.
We will continue to regularly update you on our progress and in the meantime we remain available for any comments or questions you might have.
All the best!
The Skyshare Executive Committee
Today we have written to Mr. Connor outlining some of the concerns that you have raised recently. They include:
- Mr. Connor's extensive use of our jets at a time where we are all asked to save money for the company.
- The non-payment of CPS for those on a JS year OFF.
- The planned fleet-change of management pilots to overcrewed long haul fleets, bypassing the established career progression policy.
- The massive turnover in flight OPS management.
- The amount of money spent on Outreach, a union-busting tool with no support from a majority of flight crew.
The full text is available in the members-section or upon request.
All the best from all of us at Skyshare
Today we are happy to be able to announce that the UK's Certification Office have added Skyshare to the list of officially government recognised UK trade Unions. This means we have taken another important step towards recognition by Netjets.
On a less happy note, we would also like to give you some more information to allow you to put into perspective Mr Connor's somewhat disturbing letter regarding the US NetJets pilot union.
In his letter to NJE crew members Mr Connor, with an amazing disregard for relations between the company and the US NetJets pilot union, makes all kinds of accusations against the Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots (NJASAP) and their President Captain Mark Luthi. Mark was kind enough to reply in detail, explaining why those accusations are either wrong, out of context or irrelevant to us here in Europe. We will not publish Mark's detailed response on the public website, but we will make it available upon request to any NetJets Europe employee who would like to read it. We strongly recommend that all employees do read Mark's eloquent response to Mr Connor's potentially damaging remarks. Skyshare members have all received a copy by email and can download the letter from the password-protected members-section.
However, let us highlight a few important points:
Of course a union cannot change economic realities outside the company. We never claimed we could. However, we can make sure that changes to our working conditions will only be made as a result of negotiations that include and reflect the needs of both the employer and the employee. We obviously recognise that any agreements must ensure that the company remains a strong viable business but we also recognise the importance of agreements which both parties can rely on.
The success of Skyshare and the language of our future collective agreement rely entirely on the support from our colleagues here in Europe. NJASAP have no control over, or stake in this process. That is why, given the impact that it may have on the relationship with NJASAP, Mr Connors letter is so incredibly puzzling.
Mr Connor accuses NJASAP of wasting member’s contributions. This is coming from someone who has flown on a NetJets aircraft as often as Mr. Connor. We do of course understand that he has to be seen using the product we are trying to sell, especially when meeting with potential owners. However, does Mr. Connor really have to use one of our jets to go back and forth between the Lisbon and London offices or to spend weekends at his home in Newcastle? Why does a jet have to be flown empty from one London area airport to another just to pick him up? That is neither green, nor financially sound and most seriously in a time when we are all asked to make sacrifices for the business, it certainly isn’t leadership by example.
Mr Connor seems to view NJASAP's inputs as unwelcome or non-constructive criticism, but Mr Connor would be well advised not to ignore the wealth of aviation knowledge that Union membership has to offer. Safety is a priority in NetJets and who knows more about safety than our members? We have former squadron commanders, airline captains, fleet managers, safety officers, flight instructors and examiners ready to ensure that our future collective agreement will be industry leading not just in terms of compensation but also all aspects affecting safety, including training, scheduling and operations. Would this not be beneficial for a senior management team who have no relevant previous aviation experience?
Regarding other recent communications from representatives of the Outreach forum, whilst we appreciate the good intentions of the employee forum representatives, we do feel that their involvement in changes to our terms and conditions is worrying. Everybody will be aware that only around 20% of all crew members participated in the Outreach vote. The company had serious problems convincing enough people to stand for election to the extent that that senior managers were cold calling individual crew members or accosting them in person, in order to convince them to stand for election. This speaks volumes about the lack of trust the majority of crew members had in this forum.
Most of us are under no illusion that Outreach is little more than a union busting tool. The reality is that Outreach, unveiled the night before management were due to meet representatives of the Skyshare Association, is designed purely to avoid real employee representation. Frankly it shows a huge contempt for employees when the company chooses what can and cannot be addressed by the employee forum, changes the goalposts, and in some instances, such a BUPA charges, even announces a likely result before the first meeting of the Outreach representatives. It is equally unacceptable when a small group of people, without a mandate from a majority of the people they claim to represent, are debating changes to our working conditions. Most importantly, even if there were improvements to our working conditions as a result of Outreach's stage managed meetings, they will definitely not be part of a collective agreement. Instead, as countless times before, there will be just another policy which can be changed by management at any time without any form of consultation. This is not our idea of representation.
The only solution which offers an opportunity for real and lasting change in the company is that Skyshare, representing a majority of all pilots employed by NetJets Management Ltd, works with the management to address areas of concern. These issues, left unresolved, could seriously damage the future viability of the company.
It is unfortunate that Mr Connor has once again chosen to resort to such damaging rhetoric. Despite Mr Connor's assertion regarding industrial relations, we still believe that our relationship with management does not have to be in any way hostile. Now we are a listed Union, he has the opportunity to enter a constructive dialogue with us. An opportunity we hope he will grasp. The next step is for Mr Connor to decide whether or not he really wishes to engage in meaningful dialogue with the people who built this company.
Finally however, as we near the end of an eventful year for all of us, we would like to thank you very much for your continued support and to wish you and your families a very happy Christmas and a wonderful New Year.
The Skyshare Executive Committee
We would like to give you an update on where we currently stand with the Skyshare Union. Within less than two months of its inception, the Skyshare Union already has more than 450 members. That's about three quarters of all Skyshare Association members and includes more than 50% of all pilots presently employed by NetJets Management Ltd. Considering the large number of colleagues on job share or LTLOA, this is a fantastic result and a clear mandate. This puts us in a very strong position for the recognition process.
It is worth noting that the Skyshare membership level is especially impressive when compared to the 20% of crew members who have participated in the outreach vote. Considering that the company has a lot more resources available to them than our low cost grass roots movement, we all have reason to be proud of what we have been able to achieve together in such a short time.
Of course there still is a lot of work ahead, but we are confident, that NetJets senior management will not ignore the mandate that you have given to us.
As always, we are happy to receive your comments and questions and will get back to you as soon as we can, keeping in mind that we are all doing this on our days off.
Thanks again for your fantastic support. It is very encouraging and much appreciated.
All the very best from all of us at Skyshare!
Following our recent communication on collective bargaining agreements we would like to further develop and explain our goals and strategy.
A collective agreement between Skyshare and Netjets.
In many successful large international companies around the world and in the aviation industry in particular, the relationship between employees and management are enhanced by collective agreements. Such agreements ensure that all stakeholders in a company clearly understand their rights and obligations and they also help to build trust and confidence between the various parties.
However, to date no such agreement has existed between Netjets' management and crews. A contract which contains little detail, and refers to a range of constantly changing policies, is all we have. Worst of all, these policies are often changed with little warning and sometimes no consultation whatsoever. If consultation does occur it was in the form of management run working groups or forums which did not represent the views of the majority of employees. Recent events, such as controversial changes to BUPA cover and IPP contributions, demonstrate that the only way to achieve that is through a mutually agreed collective agreement. Trusting to the goodwill of management, seemingly driven by a focus on short term, bonus driven goals, or the outcome of management run working groups simply does not work. This can cause discontent and mistrust and the individual employee can feel isolated, disenfranchised and exploited. We think it is inappropriate for a company like Netjets with several thousand employees to be without such an agreement. It seems clear then that a collective agreement is in the mutual interests of our owners, the Company and the crew members. It will promote safety, improve service to our owners and enhance the efficiency of operations by providing a framework to regulate our working conditions.
The collective agreement would enhance our relationship with our management by providing clarity and trust in the following areas:
1. Seniority and career progression.
3. Job-share and LOA, recalls and sell offs during the job-share program.
4. Vacation policy.
7. Equal opportunity.
8. Health and safety.
11. FTLs and scheduling.
12. Grievance procedures.
13. Insurance and benefits.
The collective agreement will be reviewed regularly and will provide an opportunity for both parties to sit down and discuss ways forward to meet the challenges we face in growing the business and making Netjets an exceptional place to work. Very importantly, any changes must be agreed by both parties. However, our aim is to achieve these agreements, not by confrontation, but by mutual understanding and dialogue.
We would like to develop this partnership with a progressive integration of joint committees to contribute to the improvement of the companies performance in safety, product delivery, and the overall efficiency of the Company. Whilst it is clearly managements role to run the company we believe that they would benefit from inputs from the frontline of our operation.
To this end we will request the forming of the following joint committees:
4. FTLs and scheduling.
5. Career progression and planning.
6. New aircraft introduction.
7. Voluntary options.
9. Pay, pensions and benefits.
Union delegates will be appointed to participate in these committees. Unlike management appointed working groups, these delegates will be chosen by you the membership. They will bring, during regular formal meetings, all the experience and feedback from their colleagues on the line and will be able to find solutions by working in partnership with the company's management. These joint committees will also work on anticipating future challenges such as the implementation of new fleets for example. The initial phase of our first collective agreement will take time as we seek to combine a series of dislocated policies into one cohesive agreement.
One important step is also to provide our members with a framework of legal assistance. This when for instance a dispute happens between a crew member and the company or other entity during the crew member's duty. This legal support doesn't exist within the company and history has proven that a legal back up would have changed the outcome of the disciplinary procedure in some instances.
Representation within the wider business aviation community.
Skyshare is the first Union who's members are solely from the business aviation world. Recent consultation by EASA with the business aviation industry regarding new regulations has included representation by Netjets. However, this representation made up of flight operations management and commercial department with no input from the crew members who will have to implement these new regulations on the line. However, the formation of Skyshare represents an unprecedented opportunity for us to make our contribution to the pilot profession in general and to the unique world of business aviation in particular. We hope to help frame regulations that will enhance the industry in terms of improvements in safety, FTLs and training by participating in the consultation process between regulators and business aviation.
To achieve these goals we clearly need a strategy. Much of the initial process is dictated by UK labour laws. Subsequently however, we hope to build a better relationship with the management through clear agreements and constructive dialogue.
The first step was to form the Union and we are now working towards recognition. Our first step in achieving recognition, which is underway, is to be listed in the UK by the Certification Office. Once this is done we must obtain a certificate of independence which shows that we are not funded or unduly influenced by the Netjets and are truly an independent entity representing our members.
Once this is obtained we will then write to the company offering the opportunity to adopt Skyshare as a bargaining partner. We are hopeful that given the Union's large membership that the Company will accept that Skyshare represent the most effective way of engaging with the crew members. If this approach fails, then we will have to go through the statutory process which will require the company to recognise Skyshare. Obviously we are hopeful that the company will see the advantages of engaging with Skyshare and recourse to a statutory process will be unnecessary. A more detailed explanation of the process, along with links to other information on how unions are regulated in the UK, is available at the following web address:
Once recognition has been achieved the membership will elect the representatives who will work in partnership with management to form the first collective agreement. Once the collective agreement is in place we will then seek the formation of joint committees with elected delegates from Skyshare and members of management to start working together on meeting the challenges the company faces.
Thank you for your continued support and unity. We realise that there is a lot of work ahead to achieve all this and that progress can seem slow. However, the goals are well worth it. We are sure that by working together in a spirit of co-operation with management that we can improve the product we deliver to NetJets' owners, make NetJets Europe an outstanding place to work and enhance the long term viability of the company and our job security.
All the best,
Skyshare Union Executive Committee
Dear NJE Colleague,
It was with genuine delight and admiration that I learned of your decision to begin the process of obtaining formal recognition of your labor advocate, Skyshare, in the United Kingdom. I know for those who have previously experienced the potential and actual benefits of unionism, this was the only logical step in your organization’s maturation. For others, this is a tentative first step in which you have agreed to place your trust in an organization and leadership group about which uncertainties may linger.
NJASAP finds itself in a very similar situation as we prepare to welcome our NJI peers – many of whom have never been part of a formal trade association – to our fold. We are diligently working to assuage apprehensions by reiterating two fundamental truths about labor organizations: Firstly, a labor organization exists for the specific purpose of defending its membership’s interests and enforcing the collective bargaining agreement or CBA negotiated in good faith by the parties, and, secondly, a labor advocate’s success is wholly dependent upon the engagement and support of a unified pilot group, forging ahead in the same direction. However, before discussing this in greater details, I would like to familiarize you with my organization.
The pilots who fly in the service of NJA have long recognized the paramount importance of aligning with a formal union advocate, voting in support of affiliating with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters in 1978 when NetJets was known as Executive Jet. Throughout the past 32 years both the Company and the pilot group have grown by leaps and bounds. In recognition of the same and in an effort to set the standard for representation in the fractional ownership sector of the aviation industry, a group of former and current leaders led a successful grassroots effort to cede from the Teamsters to form an independent association in early 2008.
NJASAP, the exclusive representative of the NJA pilot force, is managed by a nine-member, democratically elected Executive Board comprised of current and qualified line pilots. Leadership is supported by eight full-time professional staff members, a 14-member Stewards Council and more than 30 committee chairs and working group leaders. We currently have more than 150 members who serve as part of the Union Volunteer Network. Throughout the past two years, we have evolved from a fledgling start-up to a bona fide industry-leading organization through hard work, tenacity and most importantly, the support of our 2400-strong membership. Member engagement and unity – more than any single or combination of factors – is responsible for our evolution. Quite simply, NJASAP is a labor powerhouse because of our members.
It is not uncommon for professional flight deck crewmembers who have never been part of a union to question whether it is truly necessary or if it will be a burden to the company. These are certainly valid concerns, and they deserve a response: In our particular case, NetJets and NJASAP have negotiated several agreements throughout the years, and during that time, as previously mentioned, NetJets emerged as the premier player in fractional aviation. Obviously, our agreements did not place an undue burden on NetJets – quite the opposite, in fact, as our negotiated agreements have been a boon to both parties. For the Company, the CBA has transformed the perception of the NetJets employment opportunity from a resume booster for major airline-bound pilots to a highly sought after professional opportunity with long-term potential.In this regard, NetJets has its pick of the best and brightest aviators in the United States.
For NJASAP, the CBA protects the pilot group’s professional interests by securing job protection measures and scope language, documenting work rules written to maintain leading quality of life standards, and offering a compensation package that reflects the group’s contribution to the company’s growth as well as individual member’s technical proficiency, experience and professionalism. What’s more, that work rules are documented, known and expected to be appliedin a consistent manner protect us from changes made at the whim of a middle manager.
It must be understood a business – especially in the aviation arena – is just that, a business. For it to be successful, it cannot be perceived or managed any other way. While it may be comforting for some to view NJE as having a familyoriented atmosphere, that is not the reality of the situation nor should it be. NetJets Europe is a business, and faced with the challenges of the current global economy, I have little doubt senior managers see it as anything other than a business, and neither should you. Based on the very same, you should consider your time, professionalism and dedication to NJE as integral to its long-term viability – an indispensible business commodity. For that reason, it is vital that you have access to an advocate positioned to protect and enhance your professional interests. Just as the Company has put in place an array of resources aimed at protecting its interest so should you and your NJE colleagues.
By voting in favor of formalizing your Union, you and your peers have taken an important first step, setting the stage for the real work to begin. Skyshare can only emerge as a credible, capable advocate if you support and become involved in your organization, and you may likely do so in a variety of ways. For example, attend meetings and call in to informational teleconferences, volunteer to serve on a committee, read announcements and updates, take the time to learn about leadership candidates and then vote during the next leadership election cycle, participate in membership surveys and give feedback, and/or if you have specialized training or an advanced degree, offer to serve as a subject matter expert in your area of knowledge. You have numerous opportunities to serve and support, and you should take advantage of them.
During these early days as your burgeoning organization works to establish its reputation and to take the steps necessary to be viewed as the voice of the pilot group, your support is of tremendous import. Without it, Skyshare, and by extension you, will not be taken seriously by your management team. As your group prepares to negotiate its first agreement, it is imperative management negotiators understand they are seated across the table from a Union team who has the unwavering support of a unified membership with shared goals. I cannot overemphasize how pivotal this perception is to the success of your upcoming negotiation.
The bottom line is this: The efficacy of your labor advocate is almost exclusively based on your commitment to and involvement in the organization. Considering you are protecting what will likely become a multi-million dollar career, this is certainly an investment of time and talent worth making. With that in mind, ask yourself what you can do to make Skyshare effective, to enhance its credibility, and to inspire engagement amid your peers. Once again, you and your colleagues are the key to Skyshare’s success. You can be confident your NJASAP colleagues across the pond support you and look forward to engaging in cooperative efforts that are to our mutual benefit.
Capt. Mark Luthi
NETJETS ASSOCIATION OF SHARED AIRCRAFT PILOTS
630 Morrison Road, Ste. 110 Gahanna, Ohio 43230 w WWW.NJASAP.COM
Today we are celebrating an important milestone on our journey; a journey towards a more constructive and balanced relationship between Netjets Europe's employees and the company's management. A relationship we hope will be based on dialogue and mutual respect.
The Skyshare Trade Union has been formed, under UK labour laws, on the 13th of October 2010. None of this would have been possible without the overwhelming support of our members and the hard work of some very dedicated pilots in the background.
Our initial attempts at dialogue, as the Skyshare Association formed under French law, were unsuccessful. Mr. Connor had refused to negotiate a collective agreement with the Skyshare Association. We therefore had to take the next step which was to consult with an employment law specialist in the UK to create the Skyshare Union under UK law.
The new Union will accept membership applications from all NetJets crewmembers employed under contract to Netjets Management Ltd, regardless of gateway airport.
For the flight crew on a Portuguese NTA contract we are liaising with APPLA/SPAC, the Portuguese union, in order to reach an agreement that will offer a bridge between the 2 unions. We hope that this will allow our Portuguese colleagues to join Skyshare with the protection of APPLA.
We are aware that there are still questions and doubts regarding unionisation at NetJets Europe. Unfortunately it appears that much of the communications sent to you by senior management have sought to increase these concerns.
Your Union is made up of crews who have worked tirelessly to build a successful future for Netjets Europe. None of us have any interest in damaging the business or making unrealistic demands. As we have said before, we will not jeopardize the future of NetJets or that of it's employees. However, in the past our contracts and conditions have been changed arbitrarily and without consultation. We are the front line in delivering the sort of outstanding service our owners deserve. It is important for the companies future viability that we retain an experienced and highly motivated workforce. Consequently we feel that one of our first tasks must be to address the need for a collective agreement with the company so that ensures our terms and conditions cannot be unilaterally changed without first consulting with independent and democratically elected representatives of the workforce. The other challenge we face is ensuring that in its efforts to grow the company, the management strikes the right balance between commercial pressure and safety. Our input as a group can play a vital role in ensuring that as a company, we continue to foster a culture of safety.
Mr. Connor has expressed the view that our business model is unsuited to a Union. That is simply not true. We can look to the example of our colleagues in America to see how a Union can ensure an honest and open dialogue that benefits the company and all its stakeholders. American owners did not leave the program in droves when our colleagues formed a Union and there is no reason this should happen in Europe. Our owners all realise that unions are a normal fact of life throughout the western world and their travel plans may be affected by unions regardless of who they fly with due to the simple fact that so many employees in the aviation industry are represented by unions. The controller who gives the clearance, the driver who pumps the fuel and the engineer who fixes the aircraft are probably all Union members. The big difference is that we are a Union who's members understand the importance of the Netjets brand and have a long term interest in Netjets success.
We are therefore fully aware of our responsibilities when it comes to protecting the business.
This week we have reached another milestone as we have received our 600th full member into the Skyshare Association. Welcome aboard!
Now in order for us to be able to continue to work for you, we will need you to transfer your existing membership to the UK union which is as simple as filling in the form you will see when logging in.
There will be no additional charge for those who have already paid their first year subscription. We will only charge you again after your first year of combined Skyshare membership.
Of course we are also accepting membership applications from crew members who have not previously been members of the Skyshare association. We would urge you to speak to your colleagues who have not yet joined about the importance in ensuring that everyone has a voice within the Union. If they want to play an active role in growing the company and making it an outstanding place to work then joining the Skyshare Union is the best way to do that.
It is important to populate the new Union as quickly as possible in order to proceed with the recognition process. For more information please refer to the Q&A section or contact any member of the team directly through the links on this website.
Together we will achieve our goals. We will work with management to ensure that Netjets remains a company we can all feel proud to be a part of.
All the best from all of us at Skyshare!