May 15, 2009
Spirit Pilots Vote Overwhelmingly to Authorize Strike
Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.—Union leaders for the pilots of Spirit Airlines, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), announced today that they have been authorized by their pilots to call for a lawful withdrawal of services if stalled negotiations do not result in a new contract.
Of the nearly 95% of the eligible pilots who responded to the ballot, 98% voted in support of a withdrawal of services, if required. This authorization comes after two and a half years of fruitless negotiations and repeated contract violations by the company. The National Mediation Board (NMB) could release both sides into economic self-help after the expiration of a 30-day cooling-off period if it concludes that further mediated negotiations will not produce an agreement, at which point a strike could ensue.
“When we started negotiating, this pilot group was certain that the process would result in a fair contract,” said Capt. Sean Creed, chairman of the Spirit pilots union. “However, management’s refusal to abide by our current contract, followed by a demand for $5.3 million in concessions while announcing expansion plans, has destroyed this confidence and forged the unity demonstrated by this vote.”
Spirit pilots and management return to the table on Monday, May 18, for yet another round of negotiations. Management has repeatedly stonewalled these negotiations by walking away from agreements and layering every new proposal with multiple concessions. In the fourth quarter of 2008, management brushed aside tentative agreements in 30 sections of the contract and put forward a completely new contract that required millions of dollars in concessions, while in the same breath publicizing its plans to expand service in the Caribbean and United States. As it turned out, during the very same quarter it was seeking unparalleled concessions, Spirit was also realizing historic profits, according to the latest operating reports filed with the Department of Transportation.
“If this company put even half as much effort into trying to negotiate a fair agreement for its pilots as it did in developing crude advertising, we would have a new contract,” Capt. Creed continued. “This vote clearly shows that this pilot group is completely fed up with this approach and is now prepared to do whatever it takes to get the fair contract we deserve.”
Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilots union and represents nearly 54,000 pilots at 36 airlines in the U.S. and Canada, including more than 500 pilots at Spirit Airlines. Visit the ALPA website at http://www.alpa.org.
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Captain Sean Creed—(765) 338-6824
Arthur Luby—(571) 236-3523
Jen Lofquist—(703) 481-4459