The Day After the TA

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slideshow of the day's events

June 17, 2010 – The morning after Spirit pilots reached a tentative agreement giving them improvements in pay, benefits, and work rules, the pilots attended briefings on the return-to-service and the role the pilots play in normalizing the airline operation. The briefing provided not only important information on the next steps, but also a gathering spot for pilots, families, and supporters to congratulate each other on their solidarity and to express gracious words of thanks.

Fort Lauderdale

More than 100 pilots, flight attendants, and family members gathered in Fort Lauderdale today for a final hurrah before heading back to the their “normal” lives . . . albeit lives with a tentative agreement and the success of a five-day strike under their belts.

“You have shown Spirit management, ALPA pilots, and union members worldwide the power of solidarity,” said FLL Council Vice Chairman Doug Poletti during a pilot briefing on the back-to-work agreement and the new tentative agreement reached with management June 16. “This pilot group stood up and said ‘Enough is enough,’ and now we’ve achieved what most pilots strive to accomplish with our new contract.”

FLL LEC Secretary-Treasurer Sam Hatchwell relayed stories from behind the scenes about the untold phone calls and communications between ALPA and other union and non-union pilot groups to prevent struck work from being flown. “The fact that only one Spirit flight, crewed by Falcon Air, actually flew after the strike was called speaks volumes about the worldwide brotherhood of airline pilots,” he said.

“There will probably be a lot of backlash from the passengers,” added LEC Chairman Frank Hann, “and that’s to be expected after the way Spirit management let them down. However, hold your head high knowing you did what you needed to do to reach this moment.”

Attendees were still processing the suddenness of their hard-fought victory over an intransigent management team that Poletti said “up till two hours before the strike deadline refused to actually bargain in good faith,” and they gave Hann, Poletti, and Hatchwell a standing ovation for the long hours of hard work to reach this moment.


It was probably the last day for a long while that the 100 pilots of Spirit’s DTW domicile would be together in such numbers. But instead of another day of grim-faced reminders of how to conduct themselves on the picket line, DTW pilots, flight attendants, and family members met Thursday with hope in their hearts and pride in their accomplishments.

DTW Council Vice Chairman F/O Carlos Cueto, who had been the voice of the domicile in the news media and their direct link to the MEC and Negotiating Committee, summed it up best:

“This has been an extremely powerful and humbling experience for me. You showed up every day, you came in greater numbers every day, and you showed your resolve every day,” Cueto said. “The culture of the group has changed, and we will never be the same. We have moved a mountain and we have come miles from where we were, both contractually and as a group.”

The assembled group gave standing ovations to Cueto, Strike Center Coordinator Mark Bailey, assistant coordinators Eric Murch and Cory O’Keefe, and the ALPA staff who assisted them. They also shared their warm appreciation for their flight attendants, who were furloughed by management in an ill-advised intimidation move on what turned out to be the penultimate day of the strike.

Bailey made a point to recognize the untold pilots nationwide, both union and non-union, who made it clear to their management that they would honor Spirit’s picket lines and not fly struck work. Without their help, the strike could not have been possible.

“There were a lot of guys we never met who were not ALPA members, who may not have had any union representation at all, who stood behind us and made it possible for us to get to where we are today. They weren’t carrying a picket sign, but they were there, too,” the strike coordinator said.

The Spirit pilots now turn their attention to rebuilding their airline, both operationally and culturally. Many pilots left the DTW briefing heading over to the airport to start repositioning aircraft for regular operations on Friday. All turned to the task of rebidding their July schedules and paying special attention to the needs of passengers who were inconvenienced during the walkout.

Atlantic City

With the strike suspended, nearly 20 Spirit pilots gathered at the Residence Inn in Atlantic City today to receive a briefing from Capt. David Morlando, the Council 18 chairman, about the general terms of the proposal that must now be put to a ratification vote. Morlando talked to the group about issues like line guarantees for June, the bidding for July, and the details of the back-to-work agreement.

"We won this battle; let's take the upper hand and help out the company the best we can,” said Morlando, who noted that checks and balances are in place to protect the Spirit pilots as their airline returns to regular service.

Shortly afterward, NBC40 news reporter Nichelle Polston interviewed Spirit Capt. Tony Naseef, who expressed his appreciation for the tremendous support from other airline pilots and flight attendants, and who indicated that he was relieved to be going back to work. Polston also spoke briefly to Tony's wife, Jessica, and their 17-month-old daughter, Annemarie, who sported a “Spirit Pilots Rock” t-shirt.