Airlines Pilots Picket Demand New Contract
February 23, 2010 - Spirit Airlines pilots, represented by the Air Line
Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), concluded mediated talks with the
company on February 18 without any progress toward a new contract. The
pilots have been negotiating for three-and-a-half years and in federally
mediated talks for over six months. The end of scheduled talks may
result in the pilots calling a lawful strike should the group be
released to seek self-help from the National Mediation Board.
Spirit Airlines has been profitable for four consecutive quarters,
enjoys the lowest cost per block in the industry, and claims that it is
growing. However, the company continues to put forward a five-year
contract with $31 million in concessions, including work rule changes
that would allow the company to furlough more than 54 pilots.
“Even in harsh dictatorships, they give you a blindfold and a cigarette before the hanging,” said Sean Creed, Spirit MEC chair. “In this operation, they want you to put the noose around your own neck and pull the trap door open yourself—which is exactly what we would be doing if we were to agree to these demands.”
Spirit management has also requested changes to the contract that
directly jeopardize the quality of life, health, and safety of its
pilots. For example, the company proposes that longevity be based on
hours flown per year rather than years of service. Pilots who try to
meet their family obligations and live reasonable lives would stand to
lose hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of a career.
Additionally, pilots may feel pressured to fly even when sick or
fatigued in order to build hours and increase their income.
“The picture is painfully clear,” said ALPA president Capt. John Prater.
“After everything our Association has done to try to recover from a lost
decade in this industry, Spirit management is trying to restart the race
to the bottom. I am proud of our Spirit pilot leadership and membership
for standing up to absurd and grossly unfair demands and for insisting
that they receive compensation appropriate to pilots flying Airbus
aircraft at a major carrier.”
Spirit pilots marked the end of mediated talks by holding two picketing
events over the past few days. On Friday, February 19, more than 60
pilots demonstrated at the Fort Lauderdale Hollywood airport—the main
hub of Spirit Airlines. The pilots gathered in force again on Monday,
February 22, right outside company headquarters in
Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilot union and represents
53,250 pilots at 37 airlines in the
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