Posted on: 23 February 2010 by Mark Howells
The Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA), which represents Spirit Airlines pilots, has announced that mediated talks with the company have ended without any progress toward a new contract, the result of which could be strike action by Spirit’s pilots.
The pilots have been negotiating for three-and-a-half years and in federally mediated talks for over six months. The end of scheduled talks may result in the pilots calling a lawful strike should the group be released to seek self-help from the National Mediation Board.
ALPA emphasises that Spirit Airlines has been profitable for four consecutive quarters, has the lowest cost per block in the industry, and claims that it is growing. However, says the Association, Spirit “continues to put forward a five-year contract with $31 million in concessions, including work rule changes that would allow the company to furlough more than 54 pilots”
“Even in harsh dictatorships, they give you a blindfold and a cigarette before the hanging,” said Sean Creed, Spirit MEC chair. “In this operation, they want you to put the noose around your own neck and pull the trap door open yourself – which is exactly what we would be doing if we were to agree to these demands.”
ALPA claims that Spirit management has also requested changes to the contract that would directly jeopardise the quality of life, health, and safety of its pilots. In the example it cites, ALPA says the company “proposes that longevity be based on hours flown per year rather than years of service. Pilots who try to meet their family obligations and live reasonable lives would stand to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of a career. Additionally, pilots may feel pressured to fly even when sick or fatigued in order to build hours and increase their income”.
“The picture is painfully clear,” declared ALPA president Captain John Prater. “After everything our Association has done to try to recover from a lost decade in this industry, Spirit management is trying to restart the race to the bottom. I am proud of our Spirit pilot leadership and membership for standing up to absurd and grossly unfair demands and for insisting that they receive compensation appropriate to pilots flying Airbus aircraft at a major carrier.”