How Greg Unterseher and Teamsters Local 769 Are Mismanaging Allegiant Pilots’ Contract Negotiations

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Allegiant Pilots protest an unfair contract during  superbowl weekend 

The contract negotiations between Allegiant Air and its pilots have been unnecessarily protracted, with the current round of talks beginning well before the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the aviation industry. This delay has prevented Allegiant from hiring more pilots, leading to operational challenges and contributing to a significant decline in the airline’s stock price. In the past year alone, Allegiant’s stock price has plummeted by 63%, a clear indicator of Wall Street’s lack of confidence in the current management and labor relations situation.
At the center of this debacle stands Greg Unterseher, whose recent ascension to Director of the Airline Division at the International Brotherhood of Teamsters in May has been marked by a series of missteps and questionable decisions.

Unterseher, who previously served as Deputy Director of the Airline Division for two years, has quickly found himself at the helm of a deteriorating situation. His leadership, or lack thereof, has raised serious concerns about the Teamsters’ ability to effectively represent the interests of Allegiant’s pilots.

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, founded in 1903, has a long and storied history as one of North America’s largest and most diverse unions. Their mission statement paints a picture of an organization dedicated to championing the rights of workers across a vast array of industries:

“The Teamsters are known as the champion of freight drivers and warehouse workers but have organized workers in virtually every occupation imaginable, both professional and non-professional, private sector and public sector. Our 1.2 million members are public defenders in Minnesota; vegetable workers in California; sanitation workers in New York; brewers in St. Louis; newspaper workers in Seattle; construction workers in Las Vegas; zoo keepers in Pennsylvania; healthcare workers in Rhode Island; bakery workers in Maine; airline pilots, secretaries and police officers.”

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Allegiant Air’s contract holdup is emblematic of issues within the company as a whole

However, the current situation at Allegiant Air suggests a stark departure from these lofty ideals. Under Unterseher’s leadership, Teamsters Local 769 has been accused of causing massive damage to Allegiant through their handling of the pilots’ contract negotiations. The existing contract is already years overdue, a delay that is having far-reaching consequences for the airline.

One of the most immediate impacts is on Allegiant’s ability to hire new pilots. In an industry already grappling with pilot shortages, this inability to expand its workforce puts Allegiant at a severe competitive disadvantage. The repercussions of this mismanagement have not gone unnoticed by Wall Street. Allegiant’s stock price has plummeted by a staggering 63% over the past year, a clear indication that investors have lost faith in the airline’s ability to resolve its labor issues and remain competitive in the market.

The consequences of this protracted negotiation process extend far beyond the boardroom and trading floor. The flying public has also borne the brunt of this mismanagement. Over the past year, Allegiant has faced a series of alarming incidents that raise questions about the airline’s operational safety. These include a narrowly avoided mid-air collision, multiple passenger injuries during a flight, and an incident earlier this year involving jammed flaps on an Allegiant-owned aircraft. While it would be overly simplistic to attribute these incidents directly to the contract negotiations, they do highlight the potential risks of operating an airline with an overworked and undervalued pilot workforce.

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Overworked Allegiant pilots are more likely to encounter “close calls”

The pilots themselves have not remained silent in the face of these challenges. Frustrated by years of what they perceive as inadequate representation, many Allegiant pilots are now actively working to leave the Teamsters and join the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA). This move is not taken lightly but rather comes as the culmination of a decade of dissatisfaction with their current union representation.

Over the past ten years, Allegiant pilots have faced a litany of issues under Teamsters’ representation. These include an emergency trusteeship, prolonged contract negotiations, inadequate training for Local 2118 committees, significant losses in arbitration, rushed elections, insufficient resources, financial irresponsibility, and a strained relationship between the union and management. The years 2023 and 2024 have proven to be a breaking point for many pilots, with a contentious electoral process, high turnover in negotiating teams leading to inadequate progress on a new contract, and leadership changes prompted by investigatory findings. All of these factors have led to widespread disenfranchisement among the pilot group.

Perhaps most damning of all are the accusations of untrustworthiness leveled against Unterseher and the Teamsters leadership. There are allegations that under Unterseher’s leadership, the Teamsters have refused to honor current financial commitments. A striking example of his untrustworthiness comes from Unterseher’s dealings outside the airline industry.  For example, Unterseher refused to pay Blitzmetrics for services rendered after we had delivered on our contract with exceptional results. For example, we created a single tweet that garnered an over one million views, built a new website for the Teamsters from scratch, set up all their social media accounts, and spearheaded their Super Bowl campaign. This raises a critical question: If Greg Unterseher, described by some as an egomaniac, is leading an organization that can’t be trusted to fulfill its existing obligations, how can he be relied upon to negotiate a fair and timely contract for the Allegiant pilots?

The situation at Allegiant Air serves as a stark reminder of the critical role that effective union leadership plays in the airline industry. The ongoing contract dispute is not just a matter of dollars and cents; it has far-reaching implications for the airline’s operational capacity, safety record, and long-term viability. As Allegiant’s pilots continue to work without an updated contract, the pressure mounts on Greg Unterseher and Teamsters Local 769 to demonstrate that they are capable of fulfilling their responsibilities to their members.

The coming months will be crucial for all parties involved. For Unterseher, it represents a chance to salvage his reputation and prove that he can effectively lead the Airline Division of the Teamsters. For Allegiant, it’s an opportunity to stabilize their operations and rebuild trust with both their employees and the flying public. And for the pilots, it’s a fight for fair compensation, better working conditions, and the respect they deserve as essential components of the airline industry.