Amerijet workers strike over toxic working conditions

PILOTS and flight engineers of cargo airline Amerijet International have gone on strike in protest at “toxic” working conditions and over pay. Amerijet spokeswoman, Christine Richard, said that the carrier was using replacement pilots to operate “the same schedule with the same frequency”.

“We are disappointed that [International Brotherhood of Teamsters’] inability to reach a fair agreement has resulted in their decision to strike,” said Pamela Rollins, senior vice-president for business development. “The demands were simply not justified in any respect, particularly given the current competitive and economic environment.”

“At this point, our focus is on making sure that the islands that depend on our service get the goods people are waiting for. We are doing what it takes to deliver our shipments and assuring shippers know that their freight is in good hands,” she said.

The union claims that Amerijet forces pilots to work in “toxic working conditions.” These include no toilets on board its Boeing 727s. “Female pilots are required to squat and defecate into bags. Male pilots likewise urinate into bags just outside the cockpit doors, hanging them on hooks when finished. There is no food or water onboard and no sanitary facilities in which to wash up.”

In addition, the coalition says: “Pilots who call out sick within two to two-and-one-half hours of their flight, and even up to seven hours prior, are docked the equivalent of two-days pay, [which creates] a condition that pressures pilots to fly even when sick or exhausted.”

“Amerijet’s refusal to provide for even basic physiological needs and their insistence that even further pay penalties be imposed on the pilots and flight engineers if they call in sick for a flight is a testament to the mindset that has created the problems facing the airline industry and the need for change,” Gonzalez said.

The federal National Mediation Board has imposed a 30-day cooling-off period before resuming talks.

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