Furloughed Pilot Support Program
May 29, 2009
Fellow Furloughed American Eagle Pilots,
It’s in a pilot’s nature to chase flying jobs in pursuit of the perfect job. In fact, our industry model is based
on pilots’ moving from carrier to carrier seeking jobs closer to where they live and bigger paychecks.
Traditionally, pilots chased lower-paying jobs from flight instructing to cargo and corporate and then on to
regional airlines as they sought better pay and larger airplanes. A job at a major airline was the pinnacle
of many pilots’ careers, with the pay and benefits they had sought for years.
Unfortunately, airline pilot jobs are also, more often than not, subject to the cyclical nature of the airline
business and poor management planning. Unlike most careers, moving backward in status and pay is the
unhappy result, or sometimes even the loss of pilot employment through furlough.
Some airline managers have recognized this cycle and have tried to capitalize on it by building a business
model around it. One such airline is GoJet Airlines, an alter-ego carrier to Trans States Airlines, whose
pilots are represented by ALPA.
GoJet capitalized on pilots’ natural desire to fly larger airplanes by making itself the ultimate “stepping stone”
airline: a short-term job that promised fast upgrades while piloting the latest equipment for sub-par
pay and work rules. This business model, on the other hand, does not account for pilots who don’t use
this job as a stepping-stone.
GoJet was formed as a work-around to the APA’s scope language that prevented Trans States Airlines
from flying larger aircraft for other code-share partners while they were performing flying under contract
as American Connection. Simultaneously, but not coincidentally, the Trans States MEC was negotiating
rates of pay for large regional jet aircraft, but those negotiations fizzled as management found a way to
whipsaw the pilots and force them to accept substandard pay and working conditions.
GoJet was formed by four Trans States managers who became the initial cadre of pilots. To deflect
attention from the substandard working conditions and to attract pilots, these managers eventually
petitioned the National Mediation Board and, with the assistance of Trans States management, voted for
Teamsters Local 618 to represent them.
What Is Teamsters Local 618?
According to its website, Teamsters Local 618 represents freight carriers, auto dealerships, tank haulers,
rent-a-car services, Part Houses, Dial Corporation, parking garages, towing companies, service stations,
chemical companies, tire and rubber industries, flight attendants, and, finally, airline pilots. With 1.4
million members, the 150 GoJet pilots make up less than 1 percent of the International Brotherhood of
Teamsters’ constituency. Local 618 airline experience consists solely of their representation of the Trans
States flight attendants.
Why would GoJet management desire pilot representation by Local 618 instead of the more experienced
and stronger Local 747—the Teamsters local airline council that represents Great Lakes, Cape Air, North
American, Gulfstream, Omni, and Republic? Current and former GoJet pilots advise that Local 618
appears too closely connected with TSA management. We seriously question whether there will be very
meaningful representation from IBT 618. Yet moving to Local 747 is no longer a clear option for GoJet
pilots, since Local 747 has been placed into trusteeship for allegations of officer impropriety and faces the
threat of decertification from more than one member employee group.
Life at GoJet
GoJet pilots have characterized life at GoJet as harsh. According to these pilots, much power has been
given to check airmen, who obviously have great influence over a pilot’s current and future career.
Additionally, GoJet pilots tell us that many pilots end up with FAA Letters of Investigation (LOIs). We
encourage you to ask current and former GoJet pilots why they received these LOIs and whether it was
connected in some way to working conditions at GoJet. We encourage you to ask them why pilots have
been discharged at GoJet and whether those pilots stood up to or irritated management. It appears that
many or most GoJet pilots keep their heads down and hope they get an offer of outside employment
while they still have a clean record.
What does this mean to you?
The pilots at Trans States have tried for years to recapture the flying being done by GoJet and to
establish pay and working conditions that are on par with their peers. They also need to be assured of
future job security as management has moved most of the growth opportunities to GoJet.
As long as pilots continue to chase after sub-par working conditions at airlines like GoJet, it will be more
challenging for pilots at other airlines such as Trans States or American Eagle to get the type of contract
that makes flying for a regional airline a meaningful career position, not just a short-term stepping-stone.
The pilots of Trans States desire to achieve job security protections for themselves while addressing the
GoJet issue fairly and equitably for all, as this is in the best interest of not only the TSA pilots but the
airline industry at large. It takes the support of all ALPA pilots, not just the few.
Despite the fact that you have been furloughed and are looking for other opportunities, the Trans
States and American Eagle MECs request that you take the time to make an informed decision
prior to applying to GoJet Airlines.
Your ALPA Furlough Support Committee is here for you. Please make sure that you call with any
questions or concerns. You may also contact ALPA’s National Furlough Program coordinator, Larry Deist,
at 678-xxx-xxxx, or visit the ALPA Furloughed Pilots Support Program Website by going to
Crewroom.alpa.org and clicking the Furlough button on the left side.
If you need further details, please feel free to e-mail me at Spencer dot Rowe at alpa dot org or contact me by
phone at 787-xxx-xxxx.
EGL Membership Committee Chairman