Supervisors at JetBlue think Crewmembers should be scared of dues, but it’s abusive supervisors who have the most to fear from a well-funded, unified workplace. 

A Halloween Story About Dues at JetBlue

Organizing
31 October 2022

Anti-Union managers at JetBlue seem to wish more people were scared of “Union Dues” (cue scary Halloween music.) Long a staple of anti-union campaigns, JetBlue has been banging on about “Dues” (Oh No!) for years. Now that a majority of Ground Operations at the airline have petitioned the Federal Government to join the Machinists & Aerospace Union, managers and their hunch-backed lackeys have been working themselves into an absolute froth trying to conjure up the specter of Dues (Oh No!).

With all the drama of a Silver-Age Gothic Horror Movie, JetBlue Company Men have been shouting, “The Dues are Coming! The Dues are Coming!” with the energy of an organ-playing maniac haunting a creepy old concert hall. Frightening flyers created by company managers in dank dungeon laboratories have begun rising from dark hallways: “Got Dues? (The IAM Does.) they warn. Company Men have taken to social media to toll the graveyard bell, intoning, “They’re coming to get your dues, Barbara!” And, “You’re all Due’med! You’re all Duuuuue’med!”

Except, it’s not working. By a vast margin, these grim warnings are almost universally shrugged off by JetBlue Crewmembers. Nobody’s scared, and Company Men seem honestly perplexed about how that could be. They were sure that the dreaded campfire story of Dues (Oh No!) would drive a stake right through the heart of the union movement at the carrier. Except, it’s just become a spectacular failure. And, this has got the Company Men almost adorably mystified. 

One way to make ghost stories of Dues (Oh No!) less scary is to make them not exist in the first place. A September statement from Machinists Union General Vice President Richard Johnsen to Crewmembers made it clear that there would be no dues until they made union wages.

 

“Let me be 100 percent crystal clear,” Johnsen said in the statement. “Not one cent in union dues will be paid by Ground Operations Crewmembers until Ground Operations Crewmembers have a contract that is ratified by a majority of GO Crewmembers,” he said. “Once a legally binding contract is in place, union dues will be $42 per month. And, because JetBlue GO Crewmembers are a newly organized group of workers, there will be no initiation fee,” the statement continued. 

JetBlue supervisors and their hench-persons seemed to need help comprehending the announcement. 

“I find it hard to believe that a company will represent you for maybe years and say nope we are not going to charge you,” said one individual in a social media post. “Because, at the end of the day, a union is still a business, and businesses all have the fine print,” he continued. 

Unions are not businesses and cannot make profits from dues. Unions make more money when they negotiate a higher hourly wage from their employers. Several years ago, the Machinists Union ran an organizing campaign at JetBlue under the slogan “$30 and a Contract,” to pressure the airline to bring their wages up. At the time, the Machinists were negotiating a new contract at American Airlines. The airline was using the example of underpaid Crewmembers at JetBlue as an excuse to avoid the wage hikes Union Negotiators were demanding. The airline claimed that it could not stay competitive if it paid a modern wage to its unified workforce. Eventually, JetBlue raised wages to just under $30 an hour, hoping to end the Union Organizing campaign. American Airlines relented and agreed to pay increases. By the time a Tentative Agreement was worked out, American had agreed to the highest wages in the history of commercial aviation (…at the time. Since then, the Machinists Union has broken the American Airlines hourly wage record with a recent contract at Alaskan and now with a new Tentative Agreement at Southwest).

In other words, the Union made money from the higher industry-standard wages resulting from discount carriers like JetBlue raising the floor on pay. The potential Dues (Oh No!) from JetBlue Crewmembers were never part of the equation; the bigger negotiated paychecks at JetBlue and American were always the primary economic goal. 

Machinists Union members will never “make money” from JetBlue dues for a long, long time. Crewmembers will contribute no dues during the expensive first contract negotiation process. Additionally, it will take years to recoup the financial investments Union Members have made to assist JetBlue Union Organizers up to this point. 

Once JetBlue Ground Crews start contributing $42 a month, they will need to spend money enforcing their first contract, making the notion of Dues (Oh No!) as a profit-maker even more remote. A single Grievance that gets to the District level can cost as much as $10,000 to arbitrate. JetBlue Supervisors are not accustomed to dealing with unified workers and teaching these Supervisors to follow the rules the hard way is bound to be costly. Much of that $42 will also be used to take JetBlue Crewmembers off the clock to enforce the contract full-time. Some Crewmembers will also work as “Union Stewards” and assist co-workers facing disciplinary action by the company. Dues will be spent covering the costs Union Stewards run into as they protect other Crewmembers. 

Making the Dues (Oh No!) argument even more mysterious, Unions are going to be adding about 30,000 new members over the next two years as United bulks up its workforce. That’s 30,000 new union members who will be paying full dues from day one. The tale that Machinists need the 3,000 non-dues paying members at JetBlue for their Dues is very hard to reconcile with reality.

The Union will meet monthly at a Local Lodge office to conduct Union Business. At these meetings, union members from JetBlue will vote on exactly how to spend dues revenue. Unions vote on how every dollar is spent. There will be a monthly vote on whether or not to pay the electric bill, for example. JetBlue Crewmembers will also vote to spend money on special events, fundraisers, and community involvement. But the primary way dues will be spent will be by enforcing the contract and creating penalties for abusive supervisors who refuse to follow the rules Crewmembers laid out in the Agreement.

Supervisors who can’t stop violating the Agreement will sooner or later start getting expensive, and not just for the Union. JetBlue will also have to pay up whenever a supervisor gets out of pocket, covering its own costs to arbitrate a Grievance. These rogue Supervisors can also bring down financial penalties and fees from Federal Regulators as punishment for severe contractual infringements. If they keep racking up Grievances, supervisors will find themselves too great a legal risk for the airline to keep on the payroll. 

Abusive and corrupt Supervisors have a lot more to fear from “Dues” than Crewmembers.

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A Halloween Story About Dues At JetBlue

31 October 2022

Supervisors at JetBlue think Crewmembers should be scared of dues, but it’s abusive supervisors who have the most to fear from a well-funded, unified workplace.

Anti-Union managers at JetBlue seem to wish more people were scared of “Union Dues” (cue scary Halloween music.) Long a staple of anti-union campaigns, JetBlue has been banging on about “Dues” (Oh No!) for years. Now that a majority of Ground Operations at the airline have petitioned the Federal Government to join the Machinists & Aerospace Union, managers and their hunch-backed lackeys have been working themselves into an absolute froth trying to conjure up the specter of Dues (Oh No!).

With all the drama of a Silver-Age Gothic Horror Movie, JetBlue Company Men have been shouting, “The Dues are Coming! The Dues are Coming!” with the energy of an organ-playing maniac haunting a creepy old concert hall. Frightening flyers created by company managers in dank dungeon laboratories have begun rising from dark hallways: “Got Dues? (The IAM Does.) they warn. Company Men have taken to social media to toll the graveyard bell, intoning, “They’re coming to get your dues, Barbara!” And, “You’re all Due’med! You’re all Duuuuue’med!”

Except, it’s not working. By a vast margin, these grim warnings are almost universally shrugged off by JetBlue Crewmembers. Nobody’s scared, and Company Men seem honestly perplexed about how that could be. They were sure that the dreaded campfire story of Dues (Oh No!) would drive a stake right through the heart of the union movement at the carrier. Except, it’s just become a spectacular failure. And, this has got the Company Men almost adorably mystified. 

One way to make ghost stories of Dues (Oh No!) less scary is to make them not exist in the first place. A September statement from Machinists Union General Vice President Richard Johnsen to Crewmembers made it clear that there would be no dues until they made union wages.

“Let me be 100 percent crystal clear,” Johnsen said in the statement. “Not one cent in union dues will be paid by Ground Operations Crewmembers until Ground Operations Crewmembers have a contract that is ratified by a majority of GO Crewmembers,” he said. “Once a legally binding contract is in place, union dues will be $42 per month. And, because JetBlue GO Crewmembers are a newly organized group of workers, there will be no initiation fee,” the statement continued. 

JetBlue supervisors and their hench-persons seemed to need help comprehending the announcement. 

“I find it hard to believe that a company will represent you for maybe years and say nope we are not going to charge you,” said one individual in a social media post. “Because, at the end of the day, a union is still a business, and businesses all have the fine print,” he continued.

Unions are not businesses and cannot make profits from dues. Unions make more money when they negotiate a higher hourly wage from their employers.

Several years ago, the Machinists Union ran an organizing campaign at JetBlue under the slogan “$30 and a Contract,” to pressure the airline to bring their wages up. At the time, the Machinists were negotiating a new contract at American Airlines. The airline was using the example of underpaid Crewmembers at JetBlue as an excuse to avoid the wage hikes Union Negotiators were demanding. The airline claimed that it could not stay competitive if it paid a modern wage to its unified workforce.

Eventually, JetBlue raised wages to just under $30 an hour, hoping to end the Union Organizing campaign. American Airlines relented and agreed to pay increases. By the time a Tentative Agreement was worked out, American had agreed to the highest wages in the history of commercial aviation (…at the time. Since then, the Machinists Union has broken the American Airlines hourly wage record with a recent contract at Alaskan and now with a new Tentative Agreement at Southwest).

In other words, the Union made money from the higher industry-standard wages resulting from discount carriers like JetBlue raising the floor on pay. The potential Dues (Oh No!) from JetBlue Crewmembers were never part of the equation; the bigger negotiated paychecks at JetBlue and American were always the primary economic goal. 

Machinists Union members will never “make money” from JetBlue dues for a long, long time. Crewmembers will contribute no dues during the expensive first contract negotiation process. Additionally, it will take years to recoup the financial investments Union Members have made to assist JetBlue Union Organizers up to this point. 

Once JetBlue Ground Crews start contributing $42 a month, they will need to spend money enforcing their first contract, making the notion of Dues (Oh No!) as a profit-maker even more remote. A single Grievance that gets to the District level can cost as much as $10,000 to arbitrate. JetBlue Supervisors are not accustomed to dealing with unified workers and teaching these Supervisors to follow the rules the hard way is bound to be costly. Much of that $42 will also be used to take JetBlue Crewmembers off the clock to enforce the contract full-time. Some Crewmembers will also work as “Union Stewards” and assist co-workers facing disciplinary action by the company. Dues will be spent covering the costs Union Stewards run into as they protect other Crewmembers.

Making the Dues (Oh No!) argument even more mysterious, Unions are going to be adding about 30,000 new members over the next two years as United bulks up its workforce. That’s 30,000 new union members who will be paying full dues from day one. The tale that Machinists need the 3,000 non-dues paying members at JetBlue for their Dues is very hard to reconcile with reality. 

The Union will meet monthly at a Local Lodge office to conduct Union Business. At these meetings, union members from JetBlue will vote on exactly how to spend dues revenue. Unions vote on how every dollar is spent. There will be a monthly vote on whether or not to pay the electric bill, for example. JetBlue Crewmembers will also vote to spend money on special events, fundraisers, and community involvement. But the primary way dues will be spent will be by enforcing the contract and creating penalties for abusive supervisors who refuse to follow the rules Crewmembers laid out in the Agreement.

Supervisors who can’t stop violating the Agreement will sooner or later start getting expensive, and not just for the Union. JetBlue will also have to pay up whenever a supervisor gets out of pocket, covering its own costs to arbitrate a Grievance. These rogue Supervisors can also bring down financial penalties and fees from Federal Regulators as punishment for severe contractual infringements. If they keep racking up Grievances, supervisors will find themselves too great a legal risk for the airline to keep on the payroll. 

Abusive and corrupt Supervisors have a lot more to fear from “Dues” than Crewmembers.



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