A subsidiary of Air Transport Services Group, Inc., ABX Air, is seeking a temporary restraining order to halt pilot strikes on November 1 and 2, citing the potential for “crucial flight failures within days.” ABX Air filed the complaint yesterday against the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Airline Division, and the Airline Professionals Association of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 1224 (together, the International Brotherhood) in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, case no. 1:16-cv-01039-TSB. The complaint relates to the International Brotherhood’s alleged interference with ABX Air’s labor agreement with its pilots.
ABX Air asked the District Court for injunctive and declaratory relief for violations of Section 2, First of the Railway Labor Act (RLA), Section 6, First of the RLA and Section 204 of the RLA. According to the complaint, the International Brotherhood violated the RLA when it failed to maintain the status quo while it exhausted its remedies under the RLA. It alleged that the International Brotherhood interrupted commerce through its actions in violation of the RLA by forbidding pilots from picking up overtime shifts or selling back to ABX Air vacation days.
ABX Air alleges that the International Brotherhood threatened an imminent strike and orchestrated a ban on voluntary overtime to advance their position in labor negotiations in violation of a collective bargaining agreement and the RLA. As a result, ABX Air states it is unable to fill shifts that were previously picked up quickly and voluntarily by employee pilots. Simply put, because ABX Air had to resort to assigning the shifts, pilots accrued days off that they would not have previously accrued, and ABX Air was unable to schedule the pilots for air shipments.
ABX Air’s complaint largely relates to actions it states the International Brotherhood took while still under National Mediation Board supervision. Congress appointed the National Mediation Board to supervise labor relations in the rail and air industries. Under the RLA, the processes are not exhausted until the National Mediation Board finds the parties at an impasse. A 30-day cooling off period follows any rejection of the National Mediation Board’s proffer of arbitration. Specifically, the ABX Air complaint states that the International Brotherhood acted together to assist pilots in accumulating a backlog of days off. ABX Air has experienced flight delays and cancellations as the pilots use the days off, resulting in ABX Air’s failure to meet its contractual obligations and interruption to its service. ABX Air’s primary clientele include DHL Network Operations, Inc. and Amazon Fulfillment Services, Inc.
As gleaned from the complaint and TRO, the International Brotherhood takes the position that it is taking actions against ABX Air’s parent company, Air Transport Services Group, Inc., which is not subject to the RLA, rather than ABX Air.