Despite flying the same aircraft as our peers at other airlines, JetBlue pilots have lagged in compensation, benefits, and job protection for several years.
Since 2014, JetBlue pilots—as a union organized under the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA)—have been negotiating with our airline’s management team for a contract that brings our total compensation package to that commensurate with a professional aviator. We are long-term stakeholders and contributors in the continued success of JetBlue Airways; tasked with not only ensuring the safety and well-being of our passengers, but also with providing the award-winning customer service for which JetBlue is known.
Approximately 3,400 pilots operate a mixed fleet of 240 Airbus 320/321 and Embraer 190 aircraft for JetBlue Airways. It is past time for JetBlue to deliver a contract that provides industry-standard compensation to the pilots who work every day (and night) to make the airline a success.
JetBlue ALPA began Section 6 negotiations under the Railway Labor Act (RLA) with management on March 31, 2015. Our pilot group has submitted a full contract proposal to management that includes all of the economic cornerstones of a collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The parties have reached tentative agreements on 20 of the 31 contract sections. Following stagnation during bargaining, we filed for mediation with the National Mediation Board on July 17, 2017, and we hope that this step leads us to a contract that reflects our contributions to the success of JetBlue. We are still due a contract that reflects our contributions to the success of JetBlue.
During this time of record profits for JetBlue, and the airline industry as a whole, our pilots are looking to reach an agreement on a market-rate contract that would result in pay, benefits, career protections, and working conditions commensurate with our peers at other airlines.
Unfortunately, direct negotiations with JetBlue management stalled due to their inadequate economic proposals. Mediated negotiations has not yet yielded an agreement. We are dissatisfied with JetBlue management’s response to our reasonable proposals and a labor dispute is inevitable.
Currently, we have over 3400 members.
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This September, JetBlue pilots united once again to support their negotiators and back their union leadership. Hundreds of pilots came by air, land, and even sea, to display solidarity for those at the bargaining table. Having endured two and a half years of negotiations, JetBlue pilots are growing tired of management’s delay in recognizing them with a market-rate contract.
With boats arriving to the event carrying more than 20 pilots at a time, the rally had an energy of pride and unity. Captain Patrick Walsh, Chairman of the JetBlue division of the Air Line Pilots Association, stated, “all of our proposals are reasonable and justifiable, and the company is making record profits. We are headed for a labor dispute, and that is the fault of JetBlue management.” Captain Tim Canoll, President of ALPA, emphasized that JetBlue has the ability to afford the union’s proposals and still remain profitable, and that the unity shown on this day will help achieve such a contract.
JetBlue ALPA is ready to publicize their message. JetBlue needs to invest in their pilots with contract that reflects their contributions to the company’s success.
On July 18, 2017 the JetBlue ALPA pilots showed an outstanding display of unity and professional pride during a rally held near the JFK airport. On the back-end of announcing filing with the NMB for mediation, over 300 pilots attended to stand united behind our Negotiating Committee. Despite some challenging operational issues, we had pilots come in from all over the country—from Puerto Rico to California and everywhere in between. It confirmed that our pilot group stands ready, willing, and able to execute overwhelming public displays of our dissatisfaction in management’s unwillingness to pay a market rate for their pilots.
JetBlue management now has a clear message that we are a unified pilot group, not just three negotiators across the table.
At the rally, with an energetic environment and buzz of pride, the pilots received the full support of ALPA President Captain Tim Canoll, our fellow ALPA pilots, and achieved a clearer understanding of how negotiations got to this point. JetBlue ALPA Negotiating Chairman Captain Jeff Harbison stated, “patience and pilot unity will be the two requirements for us to achieve our goals.” The JetBlue pilots have now shown both, and we will continue to unite as we head towards a labor dispute or an agreement with management.
The Association has been offering reasonable proposals on cornerstone economic issues since day one of negotiations and have positioned themselves favorably to work with the assigned mediator to resolve a quality contract. The JetBlue pilots put to action “Commute for your job, commute for your career,” and our resolve as a group is not unnoticed at either side of the negotiating table. As MEC Chairman Captain Patrick Walsh stated, “a union is not someone you hire, it is who we are!”