- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 26, 2015

DALLAS (AP) - The Teamsters group representing pilots at Republic Airways is balking at allowing a vote on the company’s contract offer, deepening the rift between labor and management at the regional airline.

The Indianapolis company’s shares plunged 37 percent on Wednesday.

Republic has threatened to begin a restructuring process if pilots don’t approve the proposal it offered last week, which it termed its last and best offer.

Jim Clark, the president of Teamsters Local 357, said that the Teamsters national organization could override the local and order a ratification vote. Clark said he favors resuming negotiations with Republic.

Republic did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Republic operates regional flights for bigger airlines including American, Delta and United. It has about 2,100 pilots.

Shares of Republic Airways Holdings Inc. fell $1.23 to close at $2.12.

Clark said Republic changed language that had been agreed upon by the company and union negotiators and added provisions that improperly limited communication between the union and its pilots.

In an interview earlier this week, Matthew Koscal, Republic’s vice president of human resources, said the company would enter a restructuring process if pilots don’t ratify the contract, which he said includes pay raises and bonuses. The company decided to make a final offer because there had been little progress in recent negotiations and the sides were $1 billion apart in late July, he said.

Clark, however, said that the company’s offer was not good enough. Even though the company proposed big increases in pay for co-pilots, the contract would still leave Republic pilots lower-paid than those at Horizon Air, the regional-flying unit of Alaska Airlines.

Republic warned last month that its flights for the nation’s biggest airlines could be disrupted by the labor standoff and a pilot shortage.

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