ABX pilots strike

ABX Air pilots went on strike this morning, just days before the holiday shopping frenzy begins in the US.

Air pilots went on this morning, just days before the holiday shopping frenzy begins in the US.

Update 23 November: A judge in the United States District Court, Southern District of Ohio, will hold an evidentiary hearing on the case late today (Wednesday), but until he reaches a decision, the looks set to continue.

This morning, four days before Black Friday, the beginning of the annual consumer shopping frenzy that runs from Thanksgiving to Christmas, Air pilots went on .

The pilots have set up picket lines at Wilmington (ILN) and Cincinnati (CVG), the air hubs through which parent () operates for and , respectively, and approximately 80 flights (45 for , 35 for ) scheduled for today will not take off. The International Brotherhood of Local 1224, which represents the pilots, said pilots at Atlas Air, Polar Air Cargo, Southern Air, and Kalitta Air (which also fly for and/or ) have agreed not to cross the picket lines to cover flights grounded due to the .

While the background to the is not unusual, the itself is. ’s airline subsidiary and its pilots have been locked in unproductive negotiations for a new contract for some time, and in most similar situations a could be expected. However, since ’s relations are governed by the Railway Act (RLA), rather than the usual Relations Act, a would normally only be legal following a lengthy mediation process, followed by a cooling-off period. The whole point of the RLA was to prevent s and lockouts in certain industries critical to the US economy, unless a government-appointed mediator released the two parties.

We say a (or lockout) would “normally” be illegal, because, while we at Cargo Facts are not expert legal theorists, our understanding is that there is one circumstance under which it may be allowed: As long as a new contract is under negotiation, both parties are required to abide by the terms of the existing contract. In legal terms, they must maintain the contractual status quo. Should either party deviate from, or unilaterally act to make changes in, the existing contract, the other party may call a (or lockout) to force a return to the status quo.

In the case of today’s action by the pilots, the union maintains that the is not to pressure the company toward a new contract, but rather to pressure it to adhere to the terms of the existing one — to return to the status quo.

For its part, maintains that it is the itself that has violated the status quo, and that Air “will seek a court order later today to restore the status quo operating environment.”

Those interested in the claims of the two sides can easily find more information, and we will not become involved in a “he said — she said” summary here. Rather, we echo the sentiments of ’s Chief Financial Officer, Quint Turner, who was quoted this morning as saying “Hopefully, sane minds will prevail and we’ll get things back to normal operations today.”

One thought on “ABX pilots strike

  1. We have added an update to this ABX strike post, noting that a court will hold an evidenciary hearing to determine the legality of the strike.

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