Flight Options, LLC v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 1108, No. 17-3188 (6th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
Flight Options announced that it would merge with Flexjet. The Teamsters Union already represented Options' pilots. Flexjet pilots elected the Teamsters to represent them. The existing Options collective-bargaining agreement (CBA) requires the parties to modify the agreement “to permit the integration” of new pilots within nine months; if they reach an impasse, they must submit to binding arbitration. However, the CBA became “amendable” under the Railway Labor Act after the merger, so that either party could propose broad changes affecting the pilots’ rates of pay and working conditions, 45 U.S.C. 156, by serving a “Section 6” notice. The union served a Section 6 notice before the parties began their CBA negotiations. The airlines maintain that they must resolve their CBA negotiations before turning to the Section 6 proposals. The union argues that both negotiations should happen simultaneously. The union obtained a preliminary injunction ordering the airlines to bargain the Section 6 proposals in good faith. The Sixth Circuit vacated. The district court incorrectly assumed the parties’ dispute over the order of negotiations was “major” under the Act, and, therefore, required good-faith bargaining. Given that the airlines’ claim is consistent with the CBA and the union has failed to identify any contradictory language, the dispute is minor; Whether the terms of the CBA allow the airlines to delay Section 6 negotiations must be determined in arbitration.