ALPA Pilots Storm Detroit for Spirit

Click here to view a photo slideshow of the picketing.

May 19, 2010 - More than six dozen pilots from eight ALPA carriers and their union colleagues from Spirit Airlines picketed Detroit Metropolitan Airport today, reminding Spirit management that the full weight of ALPA’s 53,000 members will be behind the Spirit pilots should they be forced to go on strike next month.

Seventy-five United, Delta, Continental, Mesaba, AirTran, Eagle, Pinnacle, and CommutAir pilots walked the line along with Spirit aviators, family members, and flight attendants as the clock continues to wind down toward a potential strike on June 12.

The 450 Spirit pilots entered a mandatory 30-day cooling-off period on May 12, but instead of using the cooling-off period to bargain constructively, the airline is warning its employees that it would rather put almost 1,500 workers on the street than provide a fair contract to its pilots.

The Spirit negotiations are about more than pay, benefits, and work rules—they’re a battle to demand respect for the profession from a management that treats all pilots as second-class citizens, said SPA Strike Chairman Paul Hopkins.

A perfect example: Spirit CEO Ben Baldanza’s reaction to the 100 ALPA pilots who picketed Spirit headquarters in Miramar, FL, last week.

“He laughed at us, jumped into his BMW, and drove off to lunch . . . but he’s not going to laugh on June 12,” Hopkins said.

The Spirit pilots unveiled a billboard campaign in Fort Lauderdale, Detroit, and LaGuardia this week to warn passengers and future customers of the potential strike. The group also plans to picket LaGuardia next Tuesday, May 25.