No Thanks, No Giving. United Negotiations Update

No Thanks, No Giving. United Negotiations Update

No Thanks, No Giving

3 December 2022

IAM District 141 and United Airlines management met in Orlando, Florida, this week and continued contract negotiations. Both parties remain very far apart on the most vital issues: job security and wages.

United management’s refusal to provide acceptable job security and wage rates for IAM-represented workers is unacceptable and disgraceful. IAM members at United Airlines have spoken loudly and clearly that the issues of wages and job security are paramount to any acceptable tentative agreement. Unfortunately, after almost a year of “expedited negotiations,” United management has yet to put forth adequate proposals that could lead to a tentative agreement. While United management sits on their hands in negotiations, ground workers employed at American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and Alaska Airlines are earning higher hourly wages than United ground workers. At Southwest Airlines, IAM members will soon vote on a tentative agreement that provides the airline industry’s highest wage rates.

At the same time, United management continues to throw the success that we create in our faces. United proudly announced that the carrier just had its third-best Thanksgiving ever. IAM members ensured almost 3 million customers could connect with family and friends during the Thanksgiving holiday. And how does United thank us? They refuse to protect our jobs and pay us what we’re worth.

But why? Why the disrespect? Is it because CEO Scott Kirby thinks the economic future is uncertain and United must be cautious? No. Here’s part of what Scott said during United’s most recent earnings call: “Our operation is firing on all cylinders. In fact, based on most metrics, it’s running better than ever […] there are three industry tailwinds prevailing the COVID recovery for aviation and United that are currently overcoming those macro headwinds and we believe will continue to do so in 2023.”

Scott is very bullish on United’s financial future, and he should be: United made almost a $1 BILLION profit in the most recent quarter. Unfortunately, he’s not bullish on our financial future. The fact is, our hard work and dedication have been the drivers of United’s success. And that financial success directly lines Scott’s pockets and the pockets of the rest of United’s overpaid executives. CEO Kirby’s raise for 2022 was 67 percent, from $10 million in 2021 to $16.7 million in 2022. Greed at its finest.

I have called an emergency meeting of IAM District 141’s Executive Board next week in Houston, Texas. It is necessary to convene the District Executive Board to discuss the status of negotiations and plan our next steps, so we can appropriately deal with the unprecedented greed and arrogance that now permeates United’s management team.

We will advise of next steps.

In Solidarity,

Your Negotiating Committee

Olu Ajetomobi
Joe Bartz
Victor Hernandez
Barb Martin
Andrea’ Myers
Terry Stansbury
Faysal Silwany
Erik Stenberg
Sue Weisner

Mike Klemm

President and Directing General Chair,
IAMAW District 141
Recording Secretaries: Please print and post on all Union Bulletin Boards.
JetBlue Ground Workers to Vote for Machinists Union

JetBlue Ground Workers to Vote for Machinists Union

JetBlue Ground Workers to Vote for Machinists Union

Justice at JetBlue
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 29, 2022, WASHINGTON DC—The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) today announced that the National Mediation Board (NMB), the federal agency that conducts union representation elections in the airline industry, has determined that an election for almost 3,000 JetBlue ground operations workers will take place. The voting period will be scheduled shortly by the NMB.

“I congratulate all JetBlue Ground Operations workers on their upcoming vote,” said IAM Air Transport General Vice President Richie Johnsen. “JetBlue Ground Ops workers have spoken loudly that they want a voice and a vote in their future. These workers deserve the respect and dignity that comes with collective bargaining rights and a union contract.”

JetBlue Ground Operations workers reignited their campaign to gain IAM representation late last year and filed for a union representation election in late September, 2022 with the NMB. The federal agency today determined that JetBlue Ground Operations workers have attained the requisite showing of interest to participate in a union representation election. Federal law requires that at least 50 percent of workers in a specific work classification request a union vote be called.

“I want every JetBlue Ground Ops worker to know that the IAM will stand with you 100 percent to win this election and attain the union contract that reflects your hard work and value to JetBlue Airways,” continued Johnsen. “JetBlue will be a better place to work once these brave workers have a real say in their wages, benefits and working conditions via a legally binding employment contract. If a contract is good for JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes, then a contract is good for the almost 3,000 Ground Ops workers who actually make the airline run.”

JetBlue Ground Operations workers have cited below standard pay, benefits and working conditions as reasons to unionize with the IAM. Union contracts in the airline industry provide workers with better pay, health and wellness benefits, flexibility and working conditions.

The IAM is largest airline union in North America and has over 600,000 active and retired members.

Recording Secretaries please print and post on all IAMAW bulletin boards.

Get Printable Copy >>

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JetBlue Ground Workers to Vote for Machinists UnionJustice at JetBlueFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASENovember 29, 2022, WASHINGTON DC—The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) today announced that the National Mediation Board (NMB), the federal...

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JetBlue Ground Workers to Vote for Machinists Union

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NOVEMBER 29, 2022, WASHINGTON DC—The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) today announced that the National Mediation Board (NMB), the federal agency that conducts union representation elections in the airline industry, has determined that an election for almost 3,000 JetBlue ground operations workers will take place. The voting period will be scheduled shortly by the NMB.

“I congratulate all JetBlue Ground Operations workers on their upcoming vote,” said IAM Air Transport General Vice President Richie Johnsen. “JetBlue Ground Ops workers have spoken loudly that they want a voice and a vote in their future. These workers deserve the respect and dignity that comes with collective bargaining rights and a union contract.”

JetBlue Ground Operations workers reignited their campaign to gain IAM representation late last year and filed for a union representation election in late September 2022 with the NMB. The federal agency today determined that JetBlue Ground Operations workers have attained the requisite showing of interest to participate in a union representation election. Federal law requires that at least 50 percent of workers in a specific work classification request a union vote be called.

“I want every JetBlue Ground Ops worker to know that the IAM will stand with you 100 percent to win this election and attain the union contract that reflects your hard work and value to JetBlue Airways,” continued Johnsen. “JetBlue will be a better place to work once these brave workers have a real say in their wages, benefits and working conditions via a legally binding employment contract. If a contract is good for JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes, then a contract is good for the almost 3,000 Ground Ops workers who actually make the airline run.”

JetBlue Ground Operations workers have cited below standard pay, benefits and working conditions as reasons to unionize with the IAM. Union contracts in the airline industry provide workers with better pay, health and wellness benefits, flexibility and working conditions.

The IAM is largest airline union in North America and has over 600,000 active and retired members.

Recording Secretaries please print and post on all IAMAW bulletin boards.

Get Printable Copy >>

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No Thanks, No Giving. United Negotiations Update

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Historic Union Alliance at Delta

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Delta is now facing three of the largest unions in North American at the same time. Get ready for pizza parties. Historic Union Alliance Forms at DeltaGOIAM.org28 November 2022North America's three largest airline unions have formed a historic alliance to unify tens...

Historic Union Alliance at Delta

Historic Union Alliance at Delta

Delta is now facing three of the largest unions in North American at the same time. Get ready for pizza parties.

Historic Union Alliance Forms at Delta

GOIAM.org
28 November 2022

North America’s three largest airline unions have formed a historic alliance to unify tens of thousands of workers at Delta Air Lines.

Unlike most commercial airlines, most workers at Delta are unorganized and have no union rights or bargaining power. Airlines’ management has worked hard to keep it that way, spending a fortune to protect its ability to dominate employees one-on-one instead of as a group. The airline even killed Northwest’s heavily union tradition when it merged with the smaller carrier nearly a decade ago. 

When individual employees are isolated and left to negotiate with billion-dollar corporate giants such as Delta, they are usually forced into a “take it or leave it.” offer that often results in exploitation. Disunity among workers allows companies to impose arbitrary and unfair terminations and pay cuts and issue scheduling demands that disrupt workers’ personal lives. Additionally, companies can violate legal workplace protections with near impunity, knowing that individual employees can rarely afford to take violators to court.

Abusive policies at one airline can have spillover effects on other carriers, even those protected by the ability of union workers to take group action. Other airlines can use Delta’s ability to dominate workers to justify similar policies to “remain competitive” in contract negotiations.

Ground workers at Delta have enlisted the Machinists and Aerospace Workers Union’s (IAMAW) help to gain union status for years. Likewise, flight crews have reached out to the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA). Now, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters is joining the fight and working to organize the airlines’ Tech Ops workers. 

At the IAMAW Grand Lodge Convention earlier this year, General Vice President Richard Johnsen condemned union rivalries and called for more unified action. Johnsen, who heads the Air Transport Territory, said at the time, “We have to stop fighting other unions,” Johnsen told Machinists union members. “Delta Air Lines — one of the most anti-union companies in the country — has successfully kept unions off their property for their lifetime.”

“Let Delta Air Lines come after the whole labor movement instead of targeting one of us,” he said.

In a statement issued after the alliance was announced, Johnsen laid out the key factors driving the organizing effort for Delta ground workers. Foremost among the changes needed at the airline were consistent work rules, pensions, adequate staffing and safety policies, and a healthier work-life balance. 

The statement continued, “With a union contract, Delta won’t be able to change vacation accrual schedules or anything else unilaterally because, with a union, you have a voice in determining your destiny. With a union comes a union safety committee that can fight for adequate staffing, proper and well-maintained equipment, and union representatives whom you elect and fight for you—not corporate shareholders.”

Delta responded by saying management would prefer to pit individual employees against the company one at a time, in what the airline called a “direct relationship.” Kelly Yamanouchi, writing for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, quoted the airline as saying that this tactic would lead to a “stronger, faster, and more effective way to drive improvements than AFA, IAM, or Teamsters representation would be.” 

The move at Delta comes as employees are unifying at an unprecedented rate across America. According to the National Labor Relations Board, new union filings have shot up by 53% over the last year. This increase is the highest single-year jump since 2016. 

It’s also happening as Ground Operations Crew Members at JetBlue have filed a petition with the National Mediation Board to join the Machinists Union. The Machinists Union is North America’s largest group of transportation, aviation, and aerospace workers. The union’s largest single commercial aviation district, District 141, led by Union President Mike Klemm, is currently negotiating multiple contracts with United Airlines. The agreements cover fleet and customer service workers, security guards, instructors, and load planners at the airline.

Previous contracts negotiated by Machinists Union airline workers include historic pay increases at Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Hawaiian, and Southwest. However, increasingly, workers are asking for workplace improvements, not more money. More and more, a healthier work-life balance has begun to rise to the top of employee priorities. 

At Spirit, workers gained the highest pay rates in the history of the airline, and part-time workers also gained the ability to take vacations – another first for ground workers at the airline. “For some of these workers, this will be the first time they’ve been able to take a paid vacation,” District President Mike Klemm said. “It’s hard to believe that working people are still fighting for things like vacation time in the modern age, but here we are,” he continued. 

Other Machinists Union Contracts negotiated by Machinists Union members include provisions that make mandatory overtime much more expensive and give workers more flexibility in their work schedules. To Klemm, these priorities reflect a new way of thinking about the modern workplace. While wages and job security remain critical factors, unions also address concerns that help build a better life overall.

“Family comes first,” President Klemm said of the shift in union values. “Family comes first, second and third,” he continued, pointing out the importance of giving workers the ability to earn high enough wages that afford them the ability to spend more time off the clock. “Delta workers and JetBlue Ground Operations are overworked and undervalued,” he said. “Workers at United, American, Southwest, Hawaiian, and Spirit are ready and willing to fight side by side with them and help win the legally-binding union contracts they deserve.”

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JetBlue Ground Workers to Vote for Machinists Union

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Historic Union Alliance Forged at Delta

28 November 2022

Delta must now contend with an alliance of the three largest airline workers’ unions in North America. Let the pizza parties commence. 

North America’s three largest airline unions have formed a historic alliance to unify tens of thousands of workers at Delta Air Lines.

Unlike most commercial airlines, most workers at Delta are unorganized and have no union rights or bargaining power. Airlines’ management has worked hard to keep it that way, spending a fortune to protect its ability to dominate employees one-on-one instead of as a group. The airline even killed Northwest’s heavily union tradition when it merged with the smaller carrier nearly a decade ago. 

When individual employees are isolated and left to negotiate with billion-dollar corporate giants such as Delta, they are usually forced into a “take it or leave it.” offer that often results in exploitation. Disunity among workers allows companies to impose arbitrary and unfair terminations and pay cuts and issue scheduling demands that disrupt workers’ personal lives. Additionally, companies can violate legal workplace protections with near impunity, knowing that individual employees can rarely afford to take violators to court. 

Abusive policies at one airline can have spillover effects on other carriers, even those protected by the ability of union workers to take group action. Other airlines can use Delta’s ability to dominate workers to justify similar policies to “remain competitive” in contract negotiations.

Ground workers at Delta have enlisted the Machinists and Aerospace Workers Union’s (IAMAW) help to gain union status for years. Likewise, flight crews have reached out to the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA). Now, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters is joining the fight and working to organize the airlines’ Tech Ops workers. 

At the IAMAW Grand Lodge Convention earlier this year, General Vice President Richard Johnsen condemned union rivalries and called for more unified action. Johnsen, who heads the Air Transport Territory, said at the time, “We have to stop fighting other unions,” Johnsen told Machinists union members. “Delta Air Lines — one of the most anti-union companies in the country — has successfully kept unions off their property for their lifetime.”

“Let Delta Air Lines come after the whole labor movement instead of targeting one of us,” he said.



In a statement issued after the alliance was announced, Johnsen laid out the key factors driving the organizing effort for Delta ground workers. Foremost among the changes needed at the airline were consistent work rules, pensions, adequate staffing and safety policies, and a healthier work-life balance. 

The statement continued, “With a union contract, Delta won’t be able to change vacation accrual schedules or anything else unilaterally because, with a union, you have a voice in determining your destiny. With a union comes a union safety committee that can fight for adequate staffing, proper and well-maintained equipment, and union representatives whom you elect and fight for you—not corporate shareholders.”

Delta responded by saying management would prefer to pit individual employees against the company one at a time, in what the airline called a “direct relationship.” Kelly Yamanouchi, writing for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, quoted the airline as saying that this tactic would lead to a “stronger, faster, and more effective way to drive improvements than AFA, IAM, or Teamsters representation would be.” 

The move at Delta comes as employees are unifying at an unprecedented rate across America. According to the National Labor Relations Board, new union filings have shot up by 53% over the last year. This increase is the highest single-year jump since 2016. 

It’s also happening as Ground Operations Crew Members at JetBlue have filed a petition with the National Mediation Board to join the Machinists Union. The Machinists Union is North America’s largest group of transportation, aviation, and aerospace workers. The union’s largest single commercial aviation district, District 141, led by Union President Mike Klemm, is currently negotiating multiple contracts with United Airlines. The agreements cover fleet and customer service workers, security guards, instructors, and load planners at the airline.

Previous contracts negotiated by Machinists Union airline workers include historic pay increases at Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Hawaiian, and Southwest. However, increasingly, workers are asking for workplace improvements, not more money. More and more, a healthier work-life balance has begun to rise to the top of employee priorities. 

At Spirit, workers gained the highest pay rates in the history of the airline, and part-time workers also gained the ability to take vacations – another first for ground workers at the airline. “For some of these workers, this will be the first time they’ve been able to take a paid vacation,” District President Mike Klemm said. “It’s hard to believe that working people are still fighting for things like vacation time in the modern age, but here we are,” he continued. 

Other Machinists Union Contracts negotiated by Machinists Union members include provisions that make mandatory overtime much more expensive and give workers more flexibility in their work schedules. To Klemm, these priorities reflect a new way of thinking about the modern workplace. While wages and job security remain critical factors, unions also address concerns that help build a better life overall. “Family comes first,” President Klemm said of the shift in union values. “Family comes first, second and third,” he continued, pointing out the importance of giving workers the ability to earn high enough wages that afford them the ability to spend more time off the clock. “Delta workers and JetBlue Ground Operations are overworked and undervalued,” he said. “Workers at United, American, Southwest, Hawaiian, and Spirit are ready and willing to fight side by side with them and help win the legally-binding union contracts they deserve.”



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Working on Thanksgiving? How JetBlue GO Crewmembers Holiday Pay Compares to Other Unionized GO Workers 

Justice at JetBlue
22 November 2022

The airline industry, as we know, is a 24/7 operation, and working on a holiday is part of the job. However, how we are COMPENSATED for working on a holiday is a totally different issue. As you’ll see below, UNIONIZED Ground Ops workers at every major airline have NEGOTIATED better pay for having to work on Thanksgiving.

The only reason JetBlue Crewmembers earn less for working on Thanksgiving is because JetBlue management makes all the rules and Crewmembers have NO VOICE or VOTE in the creation of those rules. Having a UNION and the right to NEGOTIATE A CONTRACT will change that. 

On average, top-of-scale Unionized GO airline workers earn between $164.23 and $204.23 MORE than GO Crewmembers just for Thanksgiving! If we also consider working on Christmas, then Unionized GO workers earn between $328.46 and $408.46 MORE. 

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Association Update: Holiday Arbitration

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Recording Secretaries – Please print and post on all IAMAW Bulletin Boards. GET PRINTABLE COPY >>

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Association Update: Holiday Arbitration

 November 7, 2022 

TO: TWU/IAM Association Members 

RE: Holiday Arbitration 

At the end of last week, we were informed by Arbitrator Dana Eischen that he needs to reschedule the Article 22 – Holiday Arbitration scheduled to start on December 1, 2022. At his request, we have rescheduled the hearing to begin on February 2 and, if necessary, Feb 3, 2023. 

We understand the frustration this delay poses; however, the change in schedule is beyond our control. 

Fraternally, 

Recording Secretaries: Please print and post on all IAMAW bulletin boards.

JetBlue Hits More Turbulence

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JetBlue Merger Hits More Turbulance

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JetBlue is facing mounting scrutiny over its planned merger with Spirit. A group of airline workers and consumers are filing a court challenge to try and slow the “almost unstoppable” march towards airline megalopoly. 

The action comes as JetBlue posts the worst 3rd Quarter profits of any major carrier, earning a dismal $.21 a share, prompting investor concerns that airline management may be underperforming at a critical moment for the carrier. It’s also happening at a time when the airline is facing mounting concerns from the Justice Department over it’s de-facto merger with American in the Northeast markets.CEO Robin Hayes is expected to appear in court to defend the airline’s actions in that case. The airline is also facing questions from unions, who are asking if the company is being irresponsible financially, overpaying investors with what is being called “hush money” in case the deal with Spirit falls through. Unions are also calling for the airline to raise wages and offer better work / life balance for employees.

 

Flight Crews and consumers filed an injunction asking a Federal Judge to stop the planned $3.8 Billion merger between JetBlue Airways and Spirit Airlines in hopes of preserving one of the few remaining discount carriers in the U.S.

The group filed to stop the deal on Thursday, asking the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to block the transaction. The group argues that the new, larger airline could dominate key markets, leaving consumers no choice but to pay ticket prices that are impossible for either airline to command today. 

If the merger goes through, the complaint argues, consumers “would not only lose the competition of Spirit, but also the potential competition that JetBlue would provide by building its own national presence the old-fashioned way, by competing for passengers instead of buying them.”

JetBlue is the sixth-largest airline operating in the U.S. Spirit is the seventh. The combined airline would immediately become the fifth-largest air carrier, right behind American, Delta, Southwest, and United. 

The complaint argues that Spirit is a significant price-cutting rival of JetBlue and other major carriers and that, if the airline were eliminated from the commercial aviation ecosystem, other airlines would be free to hike fares on consumers. Moreover, the “current trend toward concentration, the lessening of competition, and the tendency to create a monopoly in the airline industry are unmatched and unparalleled,” the suit read.

It goes on to suggest that monopolistic power was the primary goal of the merger. “JetBlue would gain a majority market share on more than a dozen routes where neither it nor Spirit previously dominated, and it would eliminate the price-cutting by Spirit. Therefore, JetBlue made an unsolicited tender offer to purchase Spirit in order to eliminate that competition,” according to the filing. 

The complaint states that Spirit is unique in commercial aviation because it’s small enough to survive on smaller ticket prices but large enough to compete against mega-carriers such as United and Southwest. 

“Spirit, with its innovative, low-cost service, is an important bulwark against this almost unstoppable trend toward complete concentration and monopoly in the airline industry,” the suit says.

The proposed merger wouldn’t just eliminate another discount option for travelers; it would also remove an essential reason for the four mega-carriers to avoid “abuses” directed toward the flying public. If the Big Four airlines are no longer afraid of losing passengers to Spirit, the result may be skies that are even less friendly than they already are. If the JetBlue / Spirit deal is ultimately allowed to go forward, discount airfares in the U.S. will shrink by 50% overnight. 

Earlier in 2022, the Spirit Board and executives concluded that a merger between Spirit and JetBlue could never be approved by regulators and was, therefore, “illusory.” The Board then rejected an earlier offer by JetBlue. JetBlue offered to “sweeten the deal” by paying the shareholders $400 million if the proposed combination failed. Thus the shareholders could move forward with the JetBlue combination without any risks. The $400 million to shareholders was to quiet the shareholder’s knowledge of the potential illegality of the acquisitions and was little more than “hush money” according to the suit. 

All of this poses the question, What’s the end game? Is this all intentional? Greed seems to have airlines so vexed that they can’t see that they could be potentially pricing the consumer out, or could it all just be a ploy to create an ecosystem of, “our way or the highway.’ The entire notion of all of this seems to be rooted in a mindset to force customers to either pay the price or seek other transportation options. In doing so this could stand to hurt us all by driving ridership down thusly causing jobs to potentially be cut. 
 
The airline’s pain is self-inflicted, which is puzzling if we assume management at the carrier is competent. 
In September, ground Workers at the airline petitioned to unify with the Machinists Union. The National Mediation Board is reviewing the signatures and is expected to schedule an election within the next few weeks. To the surprise of many veteran Union organizers, JetBlue executives seemed to comply with union election rules, opting not to use many of the stalling tactics typical of anti-union companies, which JetBlue historically has been. 
 
Playing by the rules has so far spared JetBlue from raising the hostility of the Department of Transportation, led by strongly pro-union Pete Buttigieg. Were the airline to face the double threat of challenges from both the Justice Department and Transportation, it would suddenly become hard to see the path forward for any merger. 
For his part, Secretary Buttigieg has voiced concerns over the growth of non-union companies within America’s transportation networks. The JetBlue / Spirit merger would create another large airline that isn’t completely unionized. 
 
If the Department of Transportation ultimately decides to oppose the deal, it could spell almost certain doom for JetBlue’s acquisition plans. The DOT has the power to unilaterally deem the arrangement to be not in the public’s interest and nix the merger – without needing to go to court or gain the approval of any other agency. 
While JetBlue executives seem to understand the dangers the merger could face from an annoyed DOT, Ground Operations supervisors are struggling to grasp the concept. At virtually every JetBlue location, low-level supervisors have been unlawfully engaging in abusive anti-union tactics. Including unlawfully confiscating union property and threatening Crewmembers – all of which have been reported to Federal Regulators. 

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JetBlue Merger Hits More Turbulence 

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JetBlue is facing mounting scrutiny over its planned merger with Spirit. A group of airline workers and consumers are filing a court challenge to try and slow the “almost unstoppable” march towards airline megalopoly.

The action comes as JetBlue posts the worst 3rd Quarter profits of any major carrier, earning a dismal $.21 a share, prompting investor concerns that airline management may be underperforming at a critical moment for the carrier. It’s also happening at a time when the airline is facing mounting concerns from the Justice Department over its de-facto merger with American in the Northeast markets.CEO Robin Hayes is expected to appear in court to defend the airline’s actions in that case. The airline is also facing questions from unions, who are asking if the company is being irresponsible financially, overpaying investors with what is being called “hush money” in case the deal with Spirit falls through. Unions are also calling for the airline to raise wages and offer better work/life balance for employees.

Flight Crews and consumers filed an injunction asking a Federal Judge to stop the planned $3.8 Billion merger between JetBlue Airways and Spirit Airlines in hopes of preserving one of the few remaining discount carriers in the U.S.

The group filed to stop the deal on Thursday, asking the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to block the transaction. The group argues that the new, larger airline could dominate key markets, leaving consumers no choice but to pay ticket prices that are impossible for either airline to command today. 

If the merger goes through, the complaint argues, consumers “would not only lose the competition of Spirit, but also the potential competition that JetBlue would provide by building its own national presence the old-fashioned way, by competing for passengers instead of buying them.”

JetBlue is the sixth-largest airline operating in the U.S. Spirit is the seventh. The combined airline would immediately become the fifth-largest air carrier, right behind American, Delta, Southwest, and United. 

The complaint argues that Spirit is a significant price-cutting rival of JetBlue and other major carriers and that, if the airline were eliminated from the commercial aviation ecosystem, other airlines would be free to hike fares on consumers. Moreover, the “current trend toward concentration, the lessening of competition, and the tendency to create a monopoly in the airline industry are unmatched and unparalleled,” the suit read.

It goes on to suggest that monopolistic power was the primary goal of the merger. “JetBlue would gain a majority market share on more than a dozen routes where neither it nor Spirit previously dominated, and it would eliminate the price-cutting by Spirit. Therefore, JetBlue made an unsolicited tender offer to purchase Spirit in order to eliminate that competition,” according to the filing. 

The complaint states that Spirit is unique in commercial aviation because it’s small enough to survive on smaller ticket prices but large enough to compete against mega-carriers such as United and Southwest. 

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The proposed merger wouldn’t just eliminate another discount option for travelers; it would also remove an essential reason for the four mega-carriers to avoid “abuses” directed toward the flying public. If the Big Four airlines are no longer afraid of losing passengers to Spirit, the result may be skies that are even less friendly than they already are. If the JetBlue / Spirit deal is ultimately allowed to go forward, discount airfares in the U.S. will shrink by 50% overnight.

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Earlier in 2022, the Spirit Board and executives concluded that a merger between Spirit and JetBlue could never be approved by regulators and was, therefore, “illusory.” The Board then rejected an earlier offer by JetBlue. JetBlue offered to “sweeten the deal” by paying the shareholders $400 million if the proposed combination failed. Thus the shareholders could move forward with the JetBlue combination without any risks. The $400 million to shareholders was to quiet the shareholder’s knowledge of the potential illegality of the acquisitions and was little more than “hush money” according to the suit. 

All of this poses the question, What’s the end game? Is this all intentional? Greed seems to have airlines so vexed that they can’t see that they could be potentially pricing the consumer out, or could it all just be a ploy to create an ecosystem of, “our way or the highway.’ The entire notion of all of this seems to be rooted in a mindset to force customers to either pay the price or seek other transportation options. In doing so this could stand to hurt us all by driving ridership down thusly causing jobs to potentially be cut. 
 
The airline’s pain is self-inflicted, which is puzzling if we assume management at the carrier is competent. 
In September, ground Workers at the airline petitioned to unify with the Machinists Union. The National Mediation Board is reviewing the signatures and is expected to schedule an election within the next few weeks. To the surprise of many veteran Union organizers, JetBlue executives seemed to comply with union election rules, opting not to use many of the stalling tactics typical of anti-union companies, which JetBlue historically has been. 
 
Playing by the rules has so far spared JetBlue from raising the hostility of the Department of Transportation, led by strongly pro-union Pete Buttigieg. Were the airline to face the double threat of challenges from both the Justice Department and Transportation, it would suddenly become hard to see the path forward for any merger. 
For his part, Secretary Buttigieg has voiced concerns over the growth of non-union companies within America’s transportation networks. The JetBlue / Spirit merger would create another large airline that isn’t completely unionized. 
 
If the Department of Transportation ultimately decides to oppose the deal, it could spell almost certain doom for JetBlue’s acquisition plans. The DOT has the power to unilaterally deem the arrangement to be not in the public’s interest and nix the merger – without needing to go to court or gain the approval of any other agency. 
While JetBlue executives seem to understand the dangers the merger could face from an annoyed DOT, Ground Operations supervisors are struggling to grasp the concept. At virtually every JetBlue location, low-level supervisors have been unlawfully engaging in abusive anti-union tactics. Including unlawfully confiscating union property and threatening Crewmembers – all of which have been reported to Federal Regulators. 

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