Labor Rallies to Support Striking Amerijet Pilots, Flight Engineers

Amerijet Now Attempting To Outsource Cargo Operations to Foreign Carrier

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Aug. 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Teamster pilots and flight engineers of Fort Lauderdale-based Amerijet Air Cargo remain on strike in their demands for a first contract providing for fair wages and benefits and safe and sanitary working conditions.

Major passenger and cargo airline pilot groups across the United States have joined with the 62 Amerijet flight deck crewmembers and are showing their support for the South Florida-based pilots, flight engineers and their families. In addition to those pilot groups from the U.S. cargo and passenger airlines that have promised to not carry Amerijet freight on their aircraft, several major national trucking firms have also joined in support, including UPS, YRC and ABF. At Miami International Airport, Teamster-represented maintenance workers and cleaners are also refusing to cross the picket lines at the cargo facility on the west side of the airport.

In a desperate attempt to begin moving hundreds of thousands of pounds of perishable and time-critical freight that is growing daily since Thursday when the airline walked out of negotiations, Amerijet's management is now attempting to hire foreign airlines to stem the backlog of undelivered freight. The Teamsters are also fielding reports that Amerijet management has begun a campaign of threatening crewmembers if they don't cross the picket lines.

Pilots from UPS, Atlas Air, and Kalitta, all of which are Amerijet competitors, have joined the Amerijet pilots and flight engineers in large numbers. Additionally, the pilot unions at American, US Airways, Southwest and others have joined the Amerijet pilots and flight engineers on the picket lines and are contributing their time and money in support. Other South Florida unions, as well as organized labor in the Caribbean and South America, are also supporting the strikers.

Florida Democrat U.S. Rep Alcee Hastings is deeply troubled and concerned that Amerijet has exhibited such a cavalier and callous disregard for the safety and sanitary conditions of its pilots and flight engineers. Hastings is a nationally and internationally acclaimed champion of working people, and works tirelessly to protect their fundamental human rights. He also is dismayed that any air transportation company would insist on a sick leave policy that punishes people for calling off sick by docking their pay. Such a policy, especially when used by Amerijet against its pilots and flight engineers - who are among the lowest paid in the entire industry - forces the crewmembers to fly sick. Such a policy is dangerous and unsafe. It is also eerily similar to the commuter air tragedy in Buffalo, N.Y., earlier this year, where one of the pilots killed in that terrible accident was so sick that she should not even have entered to cockpit but felt that she could not afford to call off sick.

Hastings says he is also concerned that Amerijet's largest stock holder, a Miami-based investment company HIG Capital, has not taken steps to ensure that Amerijet maintains safe, sanitary and fair working conditions. The Teamsters are also troubled by HIG's apparent lack of concern over this matter. No company should capitalize on the misery of its workers. The Teamsters are hopeful that HIG Capital will play a constructive role in resolving the dispute caused by Amerijet's management team.

The Teamsters urge Amerijet's CEO David Bassett to his senses and correct the mess that he and his management team have created. Had he spent as much time negotiating in good faith and integrity as has trying to break the spirit of the striking pilots and flight engineers with intimidation, lies and fear, there would never have been a strike. Instead, he and his management team have misled Amerijet's customers and are now trying desperately to find foreign airlines and employees who will take U.S. jobs and fly a small portion of his customers' cargo to cover up for his bad management.

There is also a concern that Bassett is scrambling to move to market -- on a priority basis over Amerijet's other customers -- perishable fish from another company in which he holds an ownership interest. Since he has been unsuccessful in having U.S. carriers' pilots cross the picket lines, earlier today he and his management team turned to Ontario, Canada-based Cargojet Ltd., to enter the United States and fly across the picket lines.

Today, Cargojet flew into Miami to pick up Amerijet's cargo that is set for delivery to Port of Spain, Trinidad. In outsourcing its cargo operations to a foreign airline, they are signaling that they have no interest in being an honest American company and will bring as many foreign nationals as needed into the U.S. to take American jobs and make a profit off American workers.

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

SOURCE International Brotherhood of Teamsters