AUGUSTA (WJBF) – A protest by a pilots union is attracting attention at Augusta Regional Airport.
Members are hoping it will results in what they call fair compensation.
They work for NetJets, the largest private jet company in the world.
Paulette Gilbert, the vice-president for the union representatives, explained why this protest is important, “It’s not just a few rogue individuals who are unhappy. It’s the entire pilot group.
So far they’ve failed to recognize that we need to bring awareness.”
Some pilots from Friday’s protest were from Texas, and one pilot travelled from Palm Springs, California, to be present at the Augusta picket.
Gilbert also goes in depth about the struggles NetJets pilots have experienced and why they’re protesting:
WHY THEY ARE PROTESTING?
“We’re in contract negotiations with our company currently. We have been explaining to them how quality of life has changed and all the other leaders in the industry, like all the regionals and the majors, have surpassed our contract in quality of life and career prestige – so, we’re working very hard to bring awareness to that and increase our conditions here to make NetJets competitive in the current market.”
WHAT ARE THE UNIQUE STRESS AND STRUGGLES EXPERIENCED BY NETJETS PILOTS?
“We have long duty days. We can work up to 14 hours in a day, and we can do that every day of our tour – we’re required to have 10 hours off of rest. And we have the longest schedules in the industry, as far as our length of duty days. And then, on top of that, we work longer schedules than everyone else in the industry.
“So, our normal, average schedule is a ‘Seven On, Seven Off,’ and in that amount of time you could travel the world, basically.”
WHO IS OUT PROTESTING OUT AT AUGUSTA REGIONAL AIRPORT? PILOTS WHO TRAVELLED HERE WITH MASTERS VISITORS?
“All the pilots and families you see walking today are off duty, which means this is their day off. And the matter is so important that they’ve chosen to be out here on a day off to raise awareness.”
WHO THE PROTEST IS FOR?
“It’s mainly for the NetJets owners and passengers, as well as NetJets management, who is here on the ramp, as well, so that they see this is very important to us – this is not just a few rogue individuals who are unhappy, it’s the entire pilot group. And, so far, they fail to recognize that, and we need to bring awareness so that they see that. We all love NetJets. We want NetJets to remain successful. It’s an amazing company, and we want to keep it there. So, that’s why we’re here.”
RECRUITING AND RETENTION?
“So, right now, we have dropped our minimums. We used to be 2,500 hours to fly one of our jets – and we fly the wealthiest people in the world – which we feel is a good mark where people should be, but we’ve recently lowered our minimums, and we are concerned if they go any lower that it could impede the people that we are able to attract, and we want to get the very best talent.
“So, we want to compete with the Deltas of the world and make sure that people get to make a good decision about where their career is going to go.”
The demonstration will end at 4:00 p.m. Friday.
The last picket was in February in West Palm Beach.