Horizon Air pilots threaten to strike due to labor contract violations

Pilots at the SeaTac-based Horizon Air have claimed that executives at the airline broke the law by violating the terms of a labor contract, according to the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

From last summer through December, the pilots at Horizon had been negotiating with Horizon executives to alter compensation and resolve a severe staffing shortage. Company executives broke faith with the negotiation process and began making unilateral changes to compensation — a drastic step that violates the terms of the Railway Labor Act, a federal law which governs labor relations in the airline industry.

The pilots say they will make strike preparations if executives continue to violate the contract agreement and put the financial stability of Horizon and its parent company, Alaska Air, at risk. In a September 2016 survey of Horizon pilots, over 80% of respondents said they are ready to strike.

Recently, in a desperate attempt to recruit more pilots, Horizon and Alaska executives started offering new Horizon Air pilot recruits signing bonuses — a move that pilots confirm will do nothing to curb the massive retention issues for experienced pilots.

Alaska Air Group, Inc. brought in USD 700m profits in the first nine months of 2016 and recently acquired Virgin America for USD 2.6bn. Its subsidiary, Horizon Air, employs approximately 675 pilots and connects passengers on the West Coast, flying routes between Alaska, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Alberta and British Columbia in Canada.

Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4m men and women throughout the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico.