Spirit Pilots on Strike: Day 2

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the Spirit pilots on strike

June 13, 2010 - Thirty-six hours into their strike, Spirit pilots aren’t flinching—with high turnouts of picketers in Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, and Atlantic City compelled to walk the line.

They were, of course, joined by a bounty of supporters: fellow ALPA members, family, and friends, and other union workers. The camaraderie among the groups is electric and continues to feed the energy needed to stay unified and stay strong.

In Detroit, as seven Spirit Airbuses sat empty at a hangar less than a mile from nearly deserted ticket counters, Spirit’s strikers were out in high spirits. Nearly 100 pilots, flight attendants, and family members walked the line in solidarity. It was the biggest group so far in DTW, exceeding even the 92 walkers who picketed in the dark before Friday’s midnight deadline.

“I’m overwhelmed by this. This is the way it should be,” DTW F/O Rep Carlos Cueto told the crowd. “By your being out here every day, we drive this process and we keep control. And that’s a powerful thing.”

ALPA Vice President Bill Couette (EGL), who has walked with the Detroit contingent every day since Thursday, said he was especially impressed with the large number of people who picketed as families, with a pilot, spouse, and often young children as well.

“Be proud of yourselves, because you’re doing a fantastic job,” he said.

ALPA pilot groups providing support in DTW on Day 2 included Continental, Delta, Pinnacle, Eagle, and ExpressJet.

In Fort Lauderdale, more than 110 pilots, families, and flight attendants disregarded the heat to show management that their combined resolve is strong. Segmenting the group to get maximum exposure, the pilots picketed at both the airport and just outside the airport’s property. Spirit pilots were joined by pilots from AirTran, Allegiant, Atlas, Colgan, Continental, Gulfstream, Pinnacle, Southwest, SkyWest, and United.

In Atlantic City, the consolidated site of the LaGuardia and ACY picketers, scorching temperatures did not sway Spirit pilots and picketers from marching the line. Nearly two dozen Spirit pilots and supporters from ExpressJet and Continental showed their undying determination by picketing despite a morale-breaking permit restriction limiting picketing to only two sign-holders at a time. The pilots grouped at a nearby location and waited their turn to be shuttled to and from the airport to serve a 20-minute shift.

Within sight of three shuttered Spirit planes, engines covered and neatly parked in a row, the Spirit pilots stood proudly in the designated picketing area with their strike signs.

Capt. David Morlando, Spirit Council 18 chairman, said, “Our guys are in this for the long haul, and we know pilots from other carriers are watching us closely, rooting for our success.” He added, “It is encouraging to have crewmembers from AirTran (the only other airline serving ACY) and charter operations take the time to cross the airport roadway to shake our hands and tell us they support the Spirit pilots 100 percent.”

Picketing will continue at Atlantic City Int’l Airport every day until the strike is resolved.

In a message to its pilots, the MEC said, “In the days ahead, we ask you to remain strong and to know that we will get our contract. If we remain unified, if we remain together—there is simply no possible way for us to fail.”

Spirit pilots have gained support from many who are unable to join them on the picket line. Here is a sampling of recent e-mails:

Good luck to the Spirit pilots. It takes [courage] to strike in this economy. I know pilots are paid poorly considering their skills, especially on the smaller airlines. Hopefully people will realize that one small victory will make it easier for other workers.

I just wanted to say congrats and thanks to the Spirit pilots. They're leading the way, and I only hope we are allowed to strike and can do as well. Best of luck to them all. I'll be keeping up with the news via my APA website. I know all the guys I fly with are behind you and hoping for your success.