June 16, 2010
Spirit Pilots Reach Deal with Management
Tentative Agreement Ends Strike, Pilots to Receive Double-Digit Pay Increases
WASHINGTON – Spirit pilot negotiators, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), have reached a tentative agreement with their management. If ratified by the Spirit pilot group, the resulting new contract would include improvements in pay, benefits, and work rules that recognize and reward the pilots’ contributions to the company’s success.
“We’re pleased to have a tentative agreement that acknowledges the sacrifices each of us made to ensure the success of Spirit Airlines,” said Capt. Sean Creed, leader of the Spirit unit of ALPA. “This agreement provides increases in pay and retirement benefits, protects our work rules, and ensures our job security at Spirit. After five days on the picket line, this agreement also gets this pilot group and this airline back where it belongs—in the air.”
On Saturday, June 12, the pilots went on strike, forcing the company to cancel all flights and call a standstill to its operations. The pilots’ and management’s representatives reconvened on Tuesday, June 14, and met for 24 hours of intense negotiations facilitated by the National Mediation Board. After this effort, negotiators late Wednesday reached a tentative agreement that will allow the airline to restart flights as early as Friday, June 18. Specific terms of the agreement will be released to the members.
After four years of fruitless contract talks, the NMB released the two parties from mediated bargaining on May 12. This release triggered a 30-day cooling-off period that ended at 12:01 a.m. on June 12, after which time both the pilots and the company were free to engage in self-help, including a strike or lockout. After two extensions and a full-out effort to reach an agreement, the pilot leadership was forced to call a strike at 5:01 a.m. on June 12.
“Our leadership strongly believes that this is the fair and affordable agreement that our pilots asked for back in 2007 when we started negotiations with the company,” continued Creed. “Thanks to the efforts of our negotiators and the support of our international union, we were able to reach a fair and equitable agreement. I am proud not only of our negotiating team, but also of every single Spirit pilot who walked the line and refused to accept any agreement that did not treat us as valuable partners in Spirit’s continued success.”
ALPA, Spirit pilots’ 53,000-member-strong union, backed their negotiations every step of the way. Earlier this year, ALPA members gave Spirit pilots a $2 million grant from the association’s Major Contingency Fund to support their strike preparations. Over the past months and during the strike, many hundreds of ALPA pilots demonstrated unwavering solidarity with Spirit pilots by joining the picket line at the airports in Spirit domiciles in Ft. Lauderdale, Detroit, and Atlantic City, and at LaGuardia Airport.
“Spirit pilots felt the unqualified support of their union during these negotiations, and our pilots stood strong and united against company demands for concessions in the face of extremely robust profits,” said Capt. John Prater, ALPA’s president. “The pilots know that their union will continue to stand behind them.”
The tentative agreement must be ratified by the entire Spirit pilot group. The Spirit pilots’ leaders will hold road shows to meet with their pilots in the coming weeks. The agreement is expected to be brought for a vote to the entire Spirit pilot group in July.
Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilot union, representing nearly 53,000 pilots at 38 airlines in the United States and Canada. Visit the ALPA website at www.alpa.org.
Doug Baj, ALPA Communications, 703/481-4440