July 23, 2010
Spirit Pilots Approve New Contract
Pay Raises, Industry-Leading Work Rules End Four Years of Talks
FORT LAUDERDALE—Spirit Airlines pilots have ratified a new contract containing substantial pay raises and industry-leading work rules, following four years of talks and a June strike. Represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), 96 percent of the eligible Spirit pilots voted, with 74 percent approving the new agreement.
“The ratification of this contract brings years of negotiations to the only conclusion this pilot group would accept—a fair contract that recognizes our value to this airline,” said Capt. Sean Creed, Spirit Master Executive Council chair. “With the solid backing of our international union, along with support from pilots and other union members across the country, Spirit pilots held firm during an arduous bargaining process and a five-day strike. This contract, and the strong vote that puts it into effect, is a direct result of this pilot group’s unwavering resolve.”
The new five-year deal goes into effect as soon as it is signed, immediately increasing hourly wages by an average of 10 percent for captains and 18 percent for first officers, giving pilots a well-deserved share of the company’s strong profits over the past years. In addition, the entire pilot group will receive a substantial signing bonus. The agreement also includes much-needed clarification on existing work rules, puts in writing long-standing operations practices, while providing the company with additional flexibility on scheduling.
“This union has never backed away from a fight, and ALPA pilots stood shoulder to shoulder with our Spirit Airlines brothers and sisters on the picket lines in June to demand a fair contract,” said Capt. John Prater, ALPA’s president. “I commend the strength, commitment, and steadfast unity of the Spirit pilots and congratulate them on their new contract.”
Spirit pilots began bargaining for a new contract in October 2006. In July 2008, after many months of fruitless negotiations, the pilots applied to the National Mediation Board (NMB) for mediation under the Railway Labor Act. Despite the airline’s success and a profit margin measured in millions, Spirit’s management continued to demand a concessionary agreement that would strip the pilots of work rules and benefits, while also cementing their wages at the bottom of the industry pay scales.
On May 12, the NMB declared an impasse and, when the offer of binding arbitration was rejected, started the 30-day countdown to a possible strike. After around-the-clock negotiations, the pilots called a lawful strike on June 12 at 5:01 a.m. The strike ended five days later, when the company and the pilot group reached a tentative agreement on the now-ratified contract.
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, including 420 pilots at Spirit Airlines. Visit the ALPA website at http://www.alpa.org.
Captain Sean Creed—(765) 481-9033
Jen Lofquist—(703) 481-4459