Negotiations Limp Along as Self-Imposed August 1st Deadline Approaches

Negotiations Limp Along as Self-Imposed August 1st Deadline Approaches

Negotiations Limp Along as Self-Imposed August 1st Deadline Approaches

 

24 June 2022

This week, IAM District 141 and United Airlines management continued negotiations in Chicago, IL. We continue to be frustrated with the pace of the talks. We are doubtful we will reach the mutually agreed upon, self-imposed deadline of August 1, 2022, to reach tentative agreements for approximately 25,000 IAM-represented workers at United Airlines.

This week’s talks focused on the many facets of Article 2 Job Security and LOA 9, Article 4 Hours of Service, Article 9, Investigations, Grievances and Arbitration, and the vital quality of work/life issues of mandatory overtime and outage relief. While we did make some marginal progress, we still do not have agreement from United management that our job security and scope of work will be at the very least equal to what we have presently. This is very concerning at this stage of the expedited negotiations process.

In other news, this past Wednesday, IAM District 142 announced tentative agreements with Alaska Airlines on a two-year contract extension, which provides industry-leading pay rates that range between 9-17 percent. The tentative agreements cover over 5,000 IAM-represented ramp, customer service, stores, and office and clerical employees. The top-of-scale wage rate is $34 per hour, and the starting rate is $18.50.

Click here to view the Alaska COPS TA.

Click here to view the Alaska Ramp TA.

IAM-represented United Airlines workers in similar classifications earn approximately 10 percent above that of Alaska Airlines workers at the top of the scale. This is due to United being over five times the size of Alaska Airlines. This is welcome news for our contract talks as a rising tide lifts all boats, and United Airlines is poised to report record-breaking revenue generation for the second quarter of 2022.

Make no mistake; if United Airlines management believes it can stick its head in the sand regarding what is currently happening and what has already been negotiated at other carriers, it is sorely mistaken. Our only goal for IAM members at United Airlines is the best contract in the airline industry in all areas.  

Negotiations will continue July 13-15 and the week of July 25.

In solidarity,

Your District 141 Negotiating Committee

Olu Ajetomobi
Joe Bartz
Victor Hernandez
Barb Martin
Andrea’ Myers
Terry Stansbury

Faysal Silwany
Erik Stenberg
Sue Weisner

Michael G. Klemm

President & Directing General Chair,
IAMAW District 141
#LGR

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

Machinists Union Negotiates $34/Hour at Alaska Airlines

Machinists Union Negotiates $34/Hour at Alaska Airlines

Machinists Union Reaches Historic Deal at Alaska Airlines

Justice at JetBlue
22 June 2022

Machinists Union Reaches Historic, Industry-Leading Tentative Agreement Extension for 5,300 Members at Alaska Airlines

WASHINGTON, June 22, 2022 – The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) has reached a tentative agreement with Alaska Airlines that, for the first time in the carrier’s history, will put approximately 5,300 Alaska Airlines workers at the top of the airline industry’s pay scale.

The tentative agreement extension covers IAM members who work in Ramp, Stores, Clerical, Office and Passenger Service at the carrier. Alaska Airlines hubs include Anchorage, Alaska; Seattle-Tacoma; Portland, Ore.; San Francisco; and Los Angeles.

If ratified by IAM members at Alaska Airlines, the four-year contract would:

  • Raise base wage rates for all classifications to between 8.9% and 17.4% on Aug. 10, 2022.
  • Further raise all base wages rates for all classifications by 2.5% on Aug. 10, 2023
  • Base wage rate will also increase a minimum of 2.5% on Aug. 10, 2024 and Aug. 10 2025, subject to an industry review.
  • In 2024 and 2025, the agreement calls for an industry review, which will give employees a minimum 2.5% base wage rate or the percentage required to match the top of the scale as the No. 4 airline, whichever is greater.
  • No changes to strong existing medical and other benefits.
  • Longevity pay increases starting after year 6 at 5 cents per hour, and topping out after year 12 and beyond at 35 cents per hour.
  • Strong existing job security language extended until Sept. 27, 2028.

Read full highlights of the tentative agreement here.

IAM members at Alaska Airlines will vote on the tentative agreements in the coming weeks. IAM representatives will also hold contract educational meetings at locations across the country.

“The IAM’s tentative agreement with Alaska Airlines is historic for our union, the carrier, and the entire airline industry,” said IAM Air Transport Territory General Vice President Richard Johnsen. “IAM members have built Alaska Airlines into a perennial top-performing airline, and now, they have an industry-leading contract to vote on that rewards their dedication, skill, and sacrifice.”

“The IAM’s negotiating committee at Alaska Airlines has put in countless hours of hard work obtaining this tentative agreement,” said IAM District 142 President and Directing General Chair John Coveny. “From our leadership to our membership and everyone in between, this tentative agreement is the result of our union’s strength and solidarity.”

“As the largest air transport labor union in North America, our membership knows that they have the strength of the entire IAM at the bargaining table,” said IAM Air Transport Territory Chief of Staff Edison Fraser. “We are proud to present this industry-leading tentative agreement to our hard-working IAM membership at Alaska Airlines.”

“I could not be more proud of the IAM negotiating committee and our membership,” said IAM Air Transport Territory Airline Coordinator Tom Regan. “We look forward to speaking to IAM members at Alaska Airlines from coast to coast about this industry-leading, historic contract.”

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) is the largest and most powerful airline union in North America, representing more than 100,000 air transport members in North America. The IAM is one of the largest and most diverse industrial trade unions in North America, representing approximately 600,000 active and retired members in the aerospace, defense, airlines, railroad, transit, healthcare, automotive, and other industries.

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JetBlue Ups its Bid for Spirit: Now $3.7 BILLION

JetBlue Ups its Bid for Spirit: Now $3.7 BILLION

Up, Up and Away; JetBlue Management
Again Ups its Bid for Spirit: Now $3.7 BILLION

Justice at JetBlue
22 June 2022

Washington, June 16, 2022 – The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) applauds the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for approving the Global Aircraft Maintenance Safety Improvement Act (H.R. 7321). 

JetBlue management yesterday once again upped its bid to $3.7 BILLION to merge with Spirit Airlines. This is approximately 68% more than the Frontier offer.

You read that right, yes, 68% more.

JetBlue management is totally obsessed with merging with Spirit, and it appears no price is too high.

Management previously cut the summer flight schedule by about 10 percent due to staffing concerns. JetBlue could be investing much more in its people to retain workers that we need and attract new workers, which we also need. But, it seems management is more concerned with merging with Spirit, even as many economists predict a slowing economy
due to rising interest rates to battle inflation.

The tough questions are:

(1) Could this money be utilized more wisely?

(2) Is the total obsession with merging with Spirit good for us?

Management has claimed it will divest routes in the Northeast and gates in FLL. Without a union contract to protect our interests in a merger, we are certainly at risk and that needs to be fixed as soon as possible.

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) is one of the largest and most diverse industrial trade unions in North America, representing approximately 600,000 active and retired members in the aerospace, defense, airlines, railroad, transit, healthcare, automotive, and other industries.

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This Fly is About to Have a Direct Relationship With a Flyswatter

This Fly is About to Have a Direct Relationship With a Flyswatter

The Fly is About to Have a Direct Relationship With A Swatter

Justice at JetBlue
4 June 2022

A recent misleading flyer by JetBlue management claims that the “direct relationship” between JetBlue management and Crewmembers is the best way to “soar highest.” The flyer points to five things as examples of the “benefits” of the “direct relationship.” 

(1) “No fee representation”: Of course, this is at the top of management’s list.
FACT: AT JETBLUE, WE DON’T HAVE REPRESENTATION, SO THAT’S WHY WE DON’T PAY A “FEE.” GO CREWMEMBERS WILL NOT PAY A SINGLE PENNY IN UNION DUES UNTIL GO CREWMEMBERS NEGOTIATE AND VOTE IN A CONTRACT. CURRENTLY, GO CREWMEMBERS DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO NEGOTIATE OR VOTE ON ANY TERM OF EMPLOYMENT.

(2) “Compensation review every two years”:
FACT: THE REALITY IS, MANAGEMENT 100 % CONTROLS THE “REVIEW” PROCESS. GO CREWMEMBERS HAVE NO RIGHT TO VOTE ON WAGE RATES, BENEFITS, OR ANY WORKING CONDITIONS. MANAGEMENT IS FREE TO DO WHATEVER IT WANTS AND EITHER GO CREWMEMBERS ACCEPT IT OR LEAVE THE COMPANY.

(3) “Job Protection”: This one is pretty funny.
FACT: LEGALLY, GO CREWMEMBERS HAVE ZERO JOB SECURITY. MANAGEMENT CAN AND DOES OUTSOURCE OUR WORK. IF WE HAVE A PROBLEM AT WORK, WE HAVE NOBODY TO BACK US UP. WE CAN BE TERMINATED AT ANY TIME FOR ANY REASON.

(4) “Open door policy and Crewmember appeals process”:
FACT: IN A UNIONIZED WORKPLACE, ANY EMPLOYEE CAN BRING THEIR CONCERNS TO MANAGEMENT. THE UNION DIFFERENCE IS IF WE DON’T LIKE THE ANSWER WE RECEIVE WE CAN APPEAL THE DECISION THROUGH A LEGALLY BINDING, CONTRACTUAL PROCESS IN WHICH A NEUTRAL ARBITRATOR ISSUES THE DECISION. REGARDING JETBLUE’S “APPEALS PROCESS”, MANAGEMENT AGAIN CONTROLS 100% OF THE DECISION.

(5) “Seniority Protections”:
FACT: WITHOUT A LEGALLY BINDING CONTRACT, WE DO NOT HAVE SENIORITY PROTECTIONS OR LEGALLY BINDING RULES ON HOW SENIORITY IS EXERCISED, ACCRUED, OR RETAINED. JETBLUE MANAGEMENT CAN CHANGE THE “BLUE BOOK” WHENEVER IT WANTS. THE ONLY THING THAT WILL PROTECT US IN A MERGER IS A LEGALLY BINDING COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT (CONTRACT). 

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Watch as Apple Workers Make History with the Machinists Union

Watch as Apple Workers Make History with the Machinists Union

Watch as Apple Workers Make History With the Machinists and Aerospace Union

iMail
23 May 2022

Find out why Apple Workers in Maryland are Organizing with the Machinists Union.

The Apple Coalition of Organized Retail Employees (CORE), a group of Apple retail employees in Towson, MD, filed for an election to join the IAM—and many are taking notice.

WATCH: Apple Retail Workers Attempt to Organize First U.S. Union More Perfect Union

The group sent a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook informing him of the decision to organize their union, listing “access to rights we do not currently have” as a driving reason for the move, which has strong support from a majority of the workers.

In that letter, CORE requested for Apple to follow the same neutrality requirement laid out in its Supplier Code of Conduct under the section “Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining” so that employees can obtain their rights to information and collective bargaining that the law affords through unionization.

“The supplier code of conduct is on our damn website. It’s this international agreement that we’ve signed onto, and anybody who is a vender or a factory or whatever, if those workers decide to unionize or organize, Apple has a contract that says ‘we can’t get involved.’ You can’t do anything to stop that,” says CORE organizer Billy Jarboe in the video.

Vice reported a leaked memo from Apple to its store managers with anti-union talking points, revealing that the tech giant is coaching store managers to discourage workers from unionizing, saying unionization would mean workers could lose career opportunities, merit-based promotions, and time off. In the memo, Apple calls the union a “third-party,” even though the union organizers are Apple store employees.

“Apple has all the power, influence, and money to be able to make a significant change in what labor is. It’s an opportunity, like, they didn’t start it, they didn’t begin this initiative—we did. All they have to do is follow up,” says CORE organizer Christie Pridgen in the video.

Apple has also hired a known union-busting law firm, Littler Mendelson. Starbucks Corporation is another one of Littler Mendelson’s more recent clients amid a new wave of unionization in customer service.

On May 13 Apple’s Vice-President of Retail and People Deirdre O’Brien did an unannounced walk-through of the Townson Apple store to “listen” to workers.

CORE union organizers are not discouraged.

“Apple has the resources to really take care of its employees. Use what you have for good. You could actually do good. You could bring dignity to this work,” said Pridgen.

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JetBlue Launches Hostile Takeover Bid for Spirit

JetBlue Launches Hostile Takeover Bid for Spirit

JetBlue is Launching a Hostile Takeover of Spirit

Justice at JetBlue
21 April 2022

Earlier this month, Spirit Airlines rejected an offer by JetBlue to purchase the airline in a $33 per share, all-cash bid, preferring a merger with Frontier instead. On Monday, JetBlue announced a counteroffer: to launch a hostile takeover of Spirit.

The escalating tensions are pitting multiple sides against one another. On one side is the Board of Directors at JetBlue, who has thrown its total weight behind a link-up with Frontier. Another faction is made up of shareholders, who stand to see shares take a sharp spike in the event of an outright buyout. Yet another litigant is the government, which must decide if passengers would get fleeced by the new airline.

Lost so far in the discussions are the workers at JetBlue. For all the apparent urgency to strike a deal with Spirit as soon as possible, the company has yet to explain how a merger will impact the carriers’ non-union employees. They lack explicit legally-binding merger protections and face a tense, uncertain future at JetBlue. A condition the company seems in no hurry to remedy.

However, the union that represents ramp workers at Spirit has not been so silent. The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (District 141), reassured members at Spirit in February that their jobs and contractual rights would remain intact in a merger. “First and foremost, I want you to know that our newly-ratified contract with Spirit remains in full force,” said District President, Mike Klemm in a message to union members following speculation that Spirit might merge with Frontier. These rights include, “essential provisions that protect ramp workers’ jobs, seniority, and wages, among other vital protections, during a merger,” Klemm said at the time.

The plan to merge Spirit and Frontier became public in February of this year. The Spirit Board of Directors is still pushing for a merger with Frontier, while JetBlue is working to merge with Spirit, hoping to block the Spirit / Frontier tie-up.

Federal law requires companies like JetBlue to honor agreements made to unionized employees, even if those agreements originated with the company they are buying out. According to Federal labor rules, a company that takes over another business becomes more than just the new owner of that company’s assets. They also own the business’s liabilities. In other words, if JetBlue buys Spirit Airlines outright, they also pick up the union contracts and other agreements currently in place at Spirit.

Ground Operations workers at Spirit’s Fort Lauderdale station are unionized with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (District 141). As part of their agreement with Spirit, these employees have vital contractual protections. Notably, they cannot be lawfully laid off or contracted out in the event of a buyout or merger with another airline. If Spirit’s union workers have to combine with JetBlue workers in the new airline, the unionized workforce has legally-binding seniority rules that companies must follow.

JetBlue management has a wide range of options that it can consider imposing on non-union workers in a merger. Among these options; requiring existing employees to re-apply for their jobs. Such a move could allow JetBlue to purge “underperforming” employees and those with attendance or health issues.

At airlines, an employee’s seniority is critical. Typically, airline workers determine their work hours and work area, days off, and other factors based on how long they’ve worked at the company or in their current position. For this reason, seniority rules are a vital area of focus for union contracts in the aviation industry, with very clearly laid out language.

Tragically, no such legal agreements exist for Ground Operations workers at JetBlue. These are the workers that load and unload the aircraft, guide them to and from gates, and oversee aircraft handling while on the ground and at gates. JetBlue Ground Operations workers have been trying to organize with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, the same union representing similar workgroups at Spirit, American, and United, among other airlines.

JetBlue management has a wide range of options that it can consider imposing on non-union workers. Among these options; requiring existing employees to re-apply for their jobs. Such a move could allow JetBlue to purge “underperforming” employees and those with attendance or health issues.

Jetblue released a statement to investors saying that, long-term, a merger of some kind is necessary for the carrier. According to the airline, a buyout of Spirit would grant access to a large fleet of compatible Airbus planes, lucrative routes and help reduce an increasingly-critical pilot shortage. A merger with Spirit would make JetBlue the fourth-largest airline in America. For its part, Spirit rejected an opening offer to merge with JetBlue in early May, saying that Frontier was a better option

Jilted by Spirits’ Board of Directors, JetBlue turned to shareholders with a $30 / share deal and asked them to vote down the merger with Frontier. In response, Spirit’s Board has chosen to withhold critical information from JetBlue, which would usually be made available before a merger. This move prompted JetBlue to reduce its offer from $33 a share to $30, but the airline said it would still pay the higher price if Spirit changed its mind and opened the carrier’s books to JetBlue auditors.

Shares of Spirit closed on Friday at $16.98.

“If the Spirit shareholders vote against the transaction with Frontier and compel the Spirit Board to negotiate with us in good faith, we will work towards a consensual transaction at $33 per share, subject to receiving the information to support it,” JetBlue said.

JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes said in a memo, “we’re also offering to buy their shares, now at a price slightly lower than our original offer because the Spirit Board didn’t follow a fair process or allow us to look ‘under the hood’ like they allowed Frontier to do.”

 

The memo did not spell out what kind of future non-union employees at the new airline would be facing.

An interesting plot twist involves Bill Franke, the former Chairman of Spirit, who is now the Chairman at none other than Frontier Airlines. It’s easy to speculate that his involvement could be part of Spirit rejecting JetBlue in favor of Frontier. However, Franke has not confirmed that he is pushing a Frontier-Spirit merger personally. Nevertheless, Robin Hayes seems eager to connect the two, alluding to the plot in his statement to employees.

“Our guess is that there are a lot of historical ties and personal relationships between the controlling shareholder of Frontier and some of the Spirit Board members who agreed to the Frontier deal.”

Spirit hasn’t directly denied the allegations but has insisted that its rejection of the JetBlue offer was based on the expectation that Federal regulators wouldn’t allow the deal on antitrust grounds. JetBlue is involved in a de facto merger with American Airlines called the “Northest Partnership,” centered in the Boston – New York markets. Last year, the Justice Department sued to stop that arrangement.

“I’ve heard all this before, said Frank Giannola. “I’ve been through three mergers myself with USAir. “I’ve been in this business for a long time,” he said. “And, in my opinion, this only ends in a merger.”

However, Spirit also rejected an offer by JetBlue to divest assets in Florida, New York, and Boston, which would have eased regulatory concerns. Additionally, JetBlue offered a $200 million contingency fee if regulators end up blocking a JetBlue / Spirit deal. The Spirit Board of Directors refused to agree to any of the proposals by JetBlue.

Employees at JetBlue should expect an eventual merger, no matter how the deal with Spirit shakes out, according to Frank Giannola. Giannola is Director of Membership Services at the Machinists and Aerospace Union, where he frequently helps non-union workers learn more about joining a union.

“This isn’t the first time that JetBlue has tried to hook up with another airline,” Giannola said. “Ground Operations workers at JetBlue have had to worry about partnerships with American, Frontier, and now Spirit,” he went on. “Spirit is just the latest. It’s obvious to anybody who’s looking that JetBlue is desperate to get a deal done with just about anyone that will take them,” he said. “The long-term health of this airline is not sustainable, and this is according to JetBlue, who keeps saying that they need these partnerships in order to compete,” he continued.

“I’ve heard all this before,” Giannola said. “I’ve been through three mergers myself with USAir. It’s clear that Jetblue has lost its identity, and is no longer a low-cost carrier. Today’s JetBlue is trying to compete with the Big Four airlines rather than get left behind. The Jetblue story almost reminds me of USAir – when it lost its identity and tried to merge with United twice, then wanted to merge with Delta, and then finally the airline took over American. That was also a hostile takeover. It’s the exact same thing today with JetBlue.”

“Nobody who works at a company like JetBlue should trust their managers to choose what’s best for employees and their families over what’s best for investors,” he went on. “Merger protections are critical in the modern airline workplace. Especially if it looks like a merger is more likely than not.”

“I’ve been in this business for a long time,” he said. “And, in my opinion, this only ends in a merger.”

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