More than 150 March in Support of Spirit Pilots
June 9, 2010 - Just over two days left. Spirit pilots, joined by other ALPA brothers and sisters from 14 different airlines and a large contingent from the Spirit unit of the Association of Flight Attendants, marched more than 150 strong in an irrefutable show of solidarity.
The group marched in two locations in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Due to restrictive rules, only four pilots were allowed to picket on airport property, forcing the rest of the crowd to picket at the airport entrance. In both locations, the message was loud and clear: Spirit pilots are unshakably determined to strike if no agreement is reached by June 12. And their resolve of 450 pilots is supported by their families, other fellow union employees, and the largest pilots’ union in the world, boasting 53,000 airline pilots.
Today was evidence of that solidarity: Joined by their ALPA brothers and sisters from AirTran, American Eagle, ExpressJet, FedEx, Piedmont, Trans States, and United, the large group of pilots ignored the oppressive Florida heat in a picket line stretching the length of a football field, slowing traffic on busy US Route 1, and drawing signs of support from passers-by. Demonstrating that quality of life issues know no boundaries, pilots from non-ALPA groups also joined the picket line, including American, Gulfstream, Miami Air, Republic, Southwest, US Airways, and Vision.
Meanwhile at the airport, twenty-five pilots waited for their turn to circle in the small four-man rotation under the watchful eye of Spirit security. Over their shoulders, one could see the Spirit airplanes lined up at their gates—the same airplanes that will be abandoned should there be no fair contract by midnight on June 12.
Negotiations continue this week in D.C. However, little progress seems to have been made, especially on the main sticking points of scheduling and wages. Spirit management has announced at the table that it intends to fly through any work stoppage. ALPA industry experts and Spirit pilots have been actively contacting contract operators and have found no standing agreements and there seems to not be enough lift available to sustain the airline should the pilots strike.
"This pilot group will not be divided by the scare tactics and false information put forward by management," said Capt. Sean Creed, MEC Chair. "The turnout in Florida says it loud and clear: we cannot be broken and we will not accept less than we deserve."
The event drew much local media attention including Sun Sentinel, Channel 4 & 10 (CBS and ABC respectively), Telemundo, and South Florida Business Journal.