Dear Fellow Pilot,
I joined the fractional industry on May 11, 1998, when I accepted a position with Raytheon Travel Air (RTA). It was a very exciting time in fractional aviation. RTA was not even a year old when I was hired, and we all had the sense we were getting in on the ground floor of something with the potential to be spectacular. Upgrades to PIC were two to three months, and we were all moving in the right direction. Our chief pilot was honest, fair and supported the pilots. Life was good.
Fast forward to November 2001, just after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, we started hearing rumors of a merger with a company that was younger than RTA called Flight Options—as if the aftermath of 9/11 was not enough. Subsequently, there was a Union drive at RTA. Most of us felt we did not need a Union because, after all, we had a fantastic relationship with our management and a great company culture. Needless to say, Mr. Ricci was bringing crews through CGF as quickly as possible for indoc, and he was fully aware of the union drive at RTA. One of his statements will haunt me for the rest of my life. “Just give me a year,” he said. So many of my fellow colleagues and I voted “NO,” and the Union vote failed. Looking back now, this mistake ranks in the top five worst mistakes of my life.
The merger between RTA and Flight Options was fully complete by April 2002. Five union organizers from RTA were flat out terminated—they were given the nickname the “Fab Five.” This marked the first time I questioned my decision to vote no for the union. I worked in the office as a check airman on the row and was quickly educated about how this company called Flight Options conducted business. The culture of honesty and integrity, which I had been a part of at RTA, was gone. I witnessed firsthand what I considered to be a scheduler flat out telling a lie to a crew, all in the name of getting a trip covered. This was the second time I questioned my decision to vote no to the union.
As time went on, I believed fatigue became a prevalent problem while flying the line. I was concerned that if you advised a scheduler around day six of your tour that you were unable to continue, you might have good reason to feel threatened. For example, they would blurt out the canned response, “Are you refusing this trip?” In my experience, schedulers hoped crewmembers would say yes which meant they could bring the crewmember into CGF for an investigatory meeting for insubordination.
Throughout my years with Flight Options, I have worn many different hats: assistant program manager for more than two years, check airman for 15 years and, today, I am a line pilot who volunteers his off-time to serve OneSky pilots as the Vice President of the Local 1108. Our union-negotiated contract protects our collective futures and that of our families. Without Local 1108 and the Collective Bargaining Agreement, I would have left Flight Options long ago. Take it from someone who made that fateful mistake almost 18 years ago. Do not vote the union off the property—it will put your future and your family’s future at stake. Right now, you are protected by the MCBA, and, without it, you are betting one man’s vision will not destroy your family’s future and security. My family is the reason I will be voting for Local 1108—for their future and mine.
VOTE UNION. VOTE IBT LOCAL 1108.
Capt. Scott Denison
IBT Local 1108 Vice President