NetJets and the Teamsters Local 284 announced on Nov. 6 they had reached “an agreement-in-principle” regarding a new contract covering fractional operation’s union mechanics, maintenance controllers, aircraft fuelers, cleaners and stock clerks.

The company and union said they will “now work to finalize the contract language and produce a complete tentative agreement for ratification.”

Teamsters Local 284 represents approximately 210 maintenance and support personnel. Ratification requires a simple majority and Chris Moore, chairman of the Teamsters Aviation Mechanics Coalition, said, “I expect a giant turnout.”

The negotiations, which began in February 2012, have often been fractious, involving issues from pay and compensation to working conditions, but focused primarily on the contracting of maintenance work to outside vendors by the company. “NetJets subcontracts maintenance work on a massive scale,” said Moore. In October 2016, employees passed out hundreds of handbills to their NetJets co-workers at the company headquarters cafeteria in Columbus, Ohio, in protest of the outsourcing of aircraft maintenance to third-party vendors.

Then in February of this year, the Local began contacting NetJets customers as part of an effort to publicize the escalating labor dispute over the subcontracting and wage issues. “The majority of NetJets customers don’t want a race to the bottom when it comes to who performs critical maintenance on their aircraft, or how much they get paid to do it,” said Moore. He added that NetJets mechanics and support workers hadn’t received a wage increase “in more than five years.”

In letters sent to NetJets aircraft owners, the union stated: “We are searching for ways to compromise with an obstinate management, but we categorically reject the idea that we must compete against lower cost vendors for maintenance work.”

At the PGA Memorial Golf Tournament June 2 in Dublin, Ohio, the dispute escalated another notch as NetJets union members conducted an “informational picket.” Explained Moore, NetJets owners pay a premium for the service yet many “don’t know that the person turning the wrench on their plane doesn’t even work for NetJets.”

Things began to take a more conciliatory tone as the two sides worked with a mediator appointed by the National Mediation Board. With news that the two sides have reached a tentative agreement after five years of often embittered negotiations, a new contract is near. “We anticipate that the final agreement will be signed before the end of 2017,” said a NetJets spokesperson.