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At Art Basel Miami Beach, Private Jet Pilots Picket Their Clients

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NetJets protestors (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)

MIAMI BEACH — A little over a dozen pilots from the NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots (NJASAP), a union representing the interests of some 2,500 pilots working for the NetJets fractional jet ownership company, are picketing the Art Basel Miami Beach fair. The group, which began its quiet protest over the deteriorating labor conditions at NetJets around 11am today outside the Miami Beach Convention Center, is to stay throughout the duration of the fair, NJASAP president Pedro Leroux told Hyperallergic. NetJets, which offers a timeshare scheme for fractional ownership of private jets, is in its 13th year as a sponsor of the fair, a relationship that sees all NetJets customers enjoy VIP status at Art Basel’s Miami offshoot.

According to Leroux, NetJets management has blamed its owner, Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway, for demanding greater returns on their investment — even as the company continues to enjoy global growth — and in so doing forcing the company to ask its pilots to accept labor concessions. The proposed arrangement “reduces compensation, weakens job protections, increases healthcare costs, and strips union members of fundamental rights,” per the NJASAP website.

Such an explanation is at odds with a 2013 article in the New York Times‘s Dealbook blog, which describes Jordan Hansell, the chief executive of the successful subsidiary, as enjoying “a long leash” with Berkshire Hathaway management.

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