Never heard of Republic? Well, if you've flown a small plane on American, Delta, or United you've likely flown Republic. And their problems are indicative of larger challenges in the U.S. airline industry.
The Teamsters group representing pilots at Republic Airways is balking at allowing a vote on the company’s contract offer, deepening the rift between labor and management at the regional airline.
The Indianapolis company’s shares plunged 37 percent on Wednesday.
Republic has threatened to begin a restructuring process if pilots don’t approve the proposal it offered last week, which it termed its last and best offer.
Jim Clark, the president of Teamsters Local 357, said the group’s leaders opposed a ratification vote because Republic changed language that had been agreed upon during bargaining and added provisions that improperly limited communication between the union and its pilots. He said the Teamsters national organization could override the local and order a ratification vote.
Republic vice president of human resources Matthew Koscal said pilots deserve the chance to vote on the company offer. Republic operates regional flights for bigger airlines including American, Delta and United. It has about 2,100 pilots.
Shares of Indianapolis-based Republic Airways Holdings Inc. fell $1.23 to close at $2.12. They have plunged 85 percent in 2015 on a 69 percent decline in profit and the overhanging labor trouble.
Republic proposes to raise starting pay for co-pilots by 74 percent with smaller raises for current pilots — the ones who would vote on ratification.
Koscal said the company would enter a restructuring process if pilots don’t ratify the deal. He said the company decided to make a final offer because there had been little progress in recent negotiations and the sides were $1 billion apart in late July.
Clark, however, said that the company’s offer was not good enough and would still leave Republic pilots lower-paid than those at Horizon Air, the regional-flying unit of Alaska Airlines.
Republic warned last month that its flights for the nation’s biggest airlines could be disrupted by the labor standoff and a pilot shortage.
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Photo Credit: A rare Republic Airways branded plane. Cliff / Flickr