ABX pilots ordered back to work after industrial action

24 / 11 / 2016

Striking pilots flying ABX aircraft have been ordered back to work by a US district court judge after a day of industrial action.

US District Court Judge Timothy Black ruled that the 250 striking pilots must resolve differences with ABX Air through arbitration and other provisions of their labour agreement.

The industrial action began on Tuesday and unions claim it resulted in the grounding of 75 aircraft and millions of pounds of cargo.

In a statement issued last night (November 23), John Starkovich, president of ABX Air, said that as a result of the court decision, he expected ABX Air flight operations to resume immediately.

ABX noted that the judge determined that disagreements with the pilots and their union, the Airline Professionals Association of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 1224, over work scheduling issues constituted a “minor dispute” and must be resolved under terms of the labour agreement between ABX Air and the union.

“I am pleased that the court continues to recognise the value to all parties from continuing to work out remaining differences in negotiations and through arbitration,” Starkovich declared.

“We intend to resume those discussions at the appropriate time and place in order to find solutions that are in the best interests of our customers, shareholders and employees.”

Meanwhile, Local 224 said that pilots would return to work but also called on the company to address the “staffing crisis” that had led to the strike. It added that it disagreed with the judge’s decision.

Rick Ziebarth, ABX pilot and executive council chairman, Teamsters Local 1224, said:  “We do not agree with the Judge’s decision to keep us from striking, as we believe the company’s actions represent a clear violation of the status quo as outlined by Railway Labor Act.

“Rather than spend more time in court, what we’d really like is for ABX to stop the ‘emergency’ assignments and take real steps to hire and retain the number of skilled pilots we need to keep up with our customers.

Dan Wells, president, Teamsters Local 1224, added: “ABX needs to honor our contract and restore the status quo, and then work with us to ensure there are enough pilots to get the job done.

“Pilots should not have to go on strike to get back provisions of a contract that was taken away from them just to ensure they have adequate rest and time with their families.”

The striking pilots picketed outside ABX Air’s headquarters in Wilmington and outside airline customer DHL’s North American hub at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.

Amazon is another important ABX Air customer although reports from the e-tailer, which has other carrier partners to which it can turn, seem to suggest that its operations have not been disrupted by the industrial action.