Allegiant Air pilots set to strike over "sham" scheduling system

Fair scheduling isn't an issue just for retail and other low-income workers. At Allegiant Air (ALGT), it has led the carrier's pilots to overwhelmingly vote to strike to resolve the long-running issue. 

Allegiant's 877 pilots voted 93.5 percent in favor of authorizing a strike if necessary should Allegiant refuse to fix what the union calls a "sham" scheduling system that doesn't take pilots' seniority and preferences into account and subjects them to unnecessary stress and burnout.

The low-cost, Las Vegas-based carrier in 2016 reached a five-year contract agreement after two years of federally mediated talks between it and Teamsters Local 1224. The pilots and company that year agreed to negotiate and implement a new scheduling system within 180 days, according to the union, which said Allegiant has since backed out of its prior agreements for a new system.

"We are people with spouses and children, not cells on a spreadsheet that Allegiant executives can move around with no rhyme or reason," Andrew Robles, an Allegiant pilot and union representative, said in a news release. "Striking is a last resort, but we'll do whatever it takes." 

A strike could result in canceled flights out of major hubs including Las Vegas, Phoenix and Fort Lauderdale, affecting thousands of passengers, the union said. 

In an emailed statement, an Allegiant spokesperson said the airline is "working towards the completion of implementing the scheduling system," but added that the issue "would not constitute grounds for a legal work stoppage."

The budget airline drew negative attention in April when the CBS news show "60 Minutes" detailed a large number of what the program called in-flight "breakdowns." 

At the time, Allegiant issued a statement defending its safety record and calling the report "grossly misleading."