Spirit Picketers Show Dogged Resolve in Detroit

Click here to view a photo slideshow of the picketing.

June 10, 2010 – With less than 36 hours to go before the clock ticks over on their strike deadline, Spirit pilots and supporters from more than a dozen other ALPA pilot groups navigated police barricades to show their solidarity at Detroit’s Metro Airport.

Building on the success of events held earlier this week in Fort Lauderdale, New York and Atlantic City, 92 pilots and flight attendants from Spirit, Jazz Air, Delta, United, Continental, AirTran, Mesaba, Alaska, ExpressJet, Comair, Eagle, Pinnacle, ASA and FedEx participated in the picketing at DTW.

But unlike Spirit’s last informational picket in Detroit on May 18, this time police and airport security forced the marchers into a small, fenced-in area the pilots quickly dubbed the “Dog Pen.” Despite the restrictions placed on them, all the picketers spoke in one unified voice that Spirit management will not succeed in their efforts to break the pilot group should they be forced to go on strike at 12:01 a.m. this Saturday.

“This is about the more than 50,000 other pilots coming together to help you achieve your goals,” said ALPA Vice-President Bill Couette (EGL). “We don’t stand ahead of the Spirit pilots and we don’t stand behind you – we stand right beside you.”

Spirit management left the bargaining table in Washington DC today without bothering to respond to ALPA’s latest economic proposal. While the Association is still striving to hammer out an equitable contract settlement, ALPA President John Prater told the pilots gathered in Detroit to prepare for what could be a long-drawn-out battle, urging them to extend a helping hand and look out for one another.

“You are at the point of the spear, and you need to get into the mindset that this management is going to test our solidarity,” he said. “But remember this – the only thing that truly outlasts managements are the workers -- Frank Lorenzo, Ben Baldanza and that whole group lived off union-busting for years -- but the Spirit pilots have sent a message that that approach is not going to work.”

After picketing at individual stations for the past three days, the Spirit group will begin systemwide picketing at all three of its domiciles plus LaGuardia Airport 90 minutes before Friday’s midnight deadline. If no deal is reached by then, “no airplane will fly and not a wheel will turn,” vowed ALPA Strategic Preparedness and Strike Chairman Capt. Mike Donatelli (DAL).

The Detroit picketers ended their day by leaving the “Dog Pen” and defiantly marching in groups of 10 through the DTW’s North Terminal and past the Spirit passenger counters, prepared to return on Friday, Saturday or as long as it takes to get a new contract.