The Teamsters have filed a lawsuit against Republic Airways and Cape Air for unlawfully requiring pilots to sign employment contracts with non-compete clauses that impose penalties ranging from $100,000 to $250,000.
The lawsuit asserts the employment contracts are an attempt by the airlines to change pilots’ working conditions unilaterally, in violation of federal labor law under the Railway Labor Act. The suit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.
“The contracts that pilots at these two companies are forced to sign as a condition of employment are unlawful and we fully expect to win in court,” said Josh LeBlanc, President of Teamsters Local 357 and a Republic Airways pilot. “These punishing non-compete agreements are not a solution for the labor supply problem that these employers created of their own accord.”
The non-compete clauses that the companies are forcing on pilots require them to work at Republic Airways for a minimum of two years. In addition to the financial penalties, the pilots are barred from flying professionally for up to a year.
“If these companies are having a hard time recruiting pilots, then they should do what nearly every other airline has done in a competitive job market – increase wages and benefits,” said Joe Muckle, President of Teamsters Local 1224. “Trying to retain professional pilots by handcuffing them with bogus contracts is illegal and bad business, which is why no other airline is doing this. The Teamsters will fight this with the full force of our union.”