Machinists Union: Defending Workers’ Rights is the Top Priority in JetBlue-Spirit Tie-Up

Machinists Union: Defending Workers’ Rights is the Top Priority in JetBlue-Spirit Tie-Up

Machinists Union Says Defending Workers’ Rights is the Top Priority in JetBlue-Spirit Tie-Up

Organizing
8 July 2022

JetBlue Airways and Spirit Airlines this morning announced that the two airlines plan to merge to create the nation’s fifth largest carrier. Spirit Airlines shareholders yesterday rejected Frontier Airlines’ bid to merge and cleared the way for JetBlue’s $3.8 billion all-cash offer to combine the two carriers.

“As we know from the history of airline mergers and acquisitions, top executives will promise the world to gain regulatory approval. But, when the dust is settled and approval is granted, airline workers almost always get the short end of the stick,” said IAM Air Transport General Vice President Richard Johnsen. “The Machinists Union is the most powerful and experienced union when it comes to defending airline workers’ rights during mergers. We have done it before and we will do it again. IAM members at Spirit Airlines and future IAM members at JetBlue Airways will have their interests defended, just as every IAM member has during previous mergers.”

It’s expected that the proposed merger will face stiff regulatory approval from the Biden Administration. JetBlue already faces opposition from the Justice Department, which has sued to break up its commercial agreement with American Airlines Group Inc. The regulators allege that the partnership — which targets the New York and Boston markets — is anti-competitive.

“I want all IAM members at Spirit Airlines to know the Machinists Union will ensure your contract is enforced during this process and that your rights will be defended,” continued Johnsen. “I also want all the JetBlue Ground Operations Crewmembers to know that your campaign to gain IAM representation takes on even more importance now. It is urgent that you have a seat at the table, so you’re not on the menu.”

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Spirit / JetBlue Merger Statement

Spirit / JetBlue Merger Statement

Spirit / JetBlue Merger Statement

28 July 2022

To our Sisters and Brothers of Spirit Airlines,

This morning, JetBlue Airways and Spirit Airlines announced plans to merge to create the nation’s fifth largest carrier. Spirit Airlines shareholders yesterday rejected Frontier Airlines’ bid to merge and cleared the way for JetBlue’s $3.8 billion all-cash offer to combine the two carriers. The deal still needs the required regulatory approval. The airlines expect to conclude the regulatory process and hope to close the transaction no later than the first half of 2024.

Regardless of if and when this merger gets finalized, it’s vital that our IAM members at Spirit Airlines know that we will ensure your contract is enforced during this process and your rights will be defended as stated under Article 1, paragraph G of your collective bargaining agreement, which states;

  1. In the event of any merger of the Company with another airline, acquisition of the Company by another airlines, or acquisition by the Company of another airline, which affects the seniority rights of the employees covered by this Agreement, the parties will make their best efforts to integrate the seniority lists in a fair and equitable manner including, where applicable, agreement through collective bargaining between the carriers and the representatives of the employee groups affected. In the event of failure to agree, the dispute shall be resolved in accordance with Sections 2, 3, and 13 of the Allegheny-Mohawk Labor Protective Provisions.
  2. Upon announcement of any transaction which is intended to result in the consolidation of the Company with another air carrier, the parties will meet promptly to negotiate an appropriate fence agreement and to implement a seniority integration process as described above. These discussions shall not be a prerequisite for closing or completing a transaction under this Article.

It’s important that you know nothing will change under your contract until the federal government approves the merger and all potential representation disputes are concluded.

Furthermore, IAM District Lodge 141 is very close to filing a representation election for JetBlue’s ramp/fleet service workers. Any help you can provide us in gaining the needed authorization cards can only help to ensure that this proposed merger would give everyone a seat at the table and offer you the peace of mind you deserve.

In Solidarity,

Mike Klemm

President and Directing General Chair,

IAMAW District 141

Recording Secretaries: Please print and post on all Union Bulletin Boards.

“CONTRACT NOW!” Union Solidarity Actions Around the Nation As Talks Stall

“CONTRACT NOW!” Union Solidarity Actions Around the Nation As Talks Stall

CONTRACT NOW!: Machinists Union Members at Sister San Francisco Local Lodges 1781 and 1782 Member Appreciation Solidarity Day pose with Contract Now! signs. Talks with United Airlines have stalled over the issue of job security, according to union negotiators. In response, union members are renewing commitments to each other – and building a rock-solid front from which to face whatever challenges management tries to throw into the fray. Photos: Brian Vega, IAMAW 141 Communications Coordinator

“CONTRACT NOW” Wave of Union Solidarity Actions Around the Country as Contract Talks Stall

Organizing
25 July 2022

Brandishing signs reading “CONTRACT NOW,” thousands of Machinists Union members at United Airlines are storming break rooms, social media, and rallies to demand that United Airlines does not gain the ability to outsource their work to low-wage vendors in the next contract.

Workers along the West Coast gathered this week in San Francisco for a series of solidarity actions, including a member appreciation event that drew hundreds of union members. The gathering concluded a week that included rallies at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) that featured speeches by union leaders, including many directly involved in contract talks with the airline. 

“Cost of living is going up, health care is going up, everything is getting more expensive,” said Troy Rivera, an Assistant General Chairman with the Machinists, to the assembled United Airlines agents. “United thinks there are no big issues here,” he said. “And, that’s just not the case. We do have issues. Our job security is an issue – in fact, it was the number one concern that our members have asked for leading up to these negotiations.” 

“They are basically offering job security that is worse than what we have now,” said Assistant General Chairman Joe Bartz, a member of the panel of union members currently negotiating with the company. “And, that is absolutely ridiculous after what we’ve gone through over the last few years, with the pandemic.”

Bartz also took issue with the often disrespectful tone adopted by company negotiators, who, behind closed doors, seem to devalue the critical role front-line workers play at the airline. “In negotiations, members of the negotiating team told us that United Airlines Store Keepers (at United) were nothing more than Walmart stock clerks, and why should we pay them any more?” The comment drew loud boos from union members and prompted several to take to social media to point out that Walmart stock clerks are underpaid and regularly exploited. “If United wants to start acting like Walmart or Dollar General, we might be (expletive removed),” a poster on Facebook said in a comment that has since been deleted.

The rally at SFO Airport was only one of several such demonstrations. On Saturday, San Francisco-based union members launched a “Member Appreciation Day” event that drew several hundred airline workers. According to event organizers, the day was intended to strengthen the bonds between union members and their community. Organizers stressed that relationship-building exercises like membership appreciation events and community outreach could only help union members during contract negotiations. 

“This took a lot of work,” said event organizer Noelle Sakamoto. “There was a whole team of us that brought this together,” she said. The group involved Local Lodge Presidents from two Local Lodges, Tony Parker from 1781 and Wendy Goodell from Local 1782, both helped lead the work. The twice-a-month meetings began in January of 2022 and included help from Assistant General Chairs Olu Ajetomobi and Troy Rivera, both of whom represent airline workers along the West Coast. Chrisk Lusk, a District Vice-President and Local 1781 Committeeman also offered help and advice.

“They want us to trust them when they say they won’t outsource our work, and that’s just not good enough. We want it in black and white, in writing, in a legally-binding contract.”

-IAMAW District President, Mike Klemm

Area businesses invited to the event lined the parking lot of Locals 1781 and 1782 with a colorful assortment of booths, face painting, music, souvenirs, and food and drink options… all of which combined with the cool San Franciscan summer weather to create a festive atmosphere for attendees. 

But, behind the warm hugs and smiling joviality was a persistent undercurrent of steely determination, focused on the behavior of United Airlines at the negotiating table. 

In a July 18 letter to the membership, Machinists District President Mike Klemm, who is leading the negotiations, pointedly told members that talks had stalled over job security. 

“Unfortunately, United management decided to propose a job security package that is not competitive with United’s industry peers and does not provide the job security and scope of work protections IAM members deserve,” Klemm said in the statement. Of the solidarity events springing up at airports around the nation, Klemm said, “We need to take every opportunity to remind each other that we are all in this together and that we have each other’s backs.”

“They want us to trust them when they say that they will not outsource our work, and that’s just not good enough. We want it in black and white, in writing, in a legally-binding contract.”

 

The head of the Machinists Union Airline Transportation Division, Richard Johnsen, underscored the sentiments to West Coast union members over the weekend. “I want to thank everyone who put in so much hard work to create this solidarity event,” said Johnsen. “We need to do this. We need to be together and rock-solid if we’re going to take on this company and win,” he said. Johnsen called on United to, “return to the bargaining table and give Machinist Union Members a fair contract that protects our jobs and shows the respect that we deserve,” to loud cheers and chants of “Contract Now!”

One factor making United’s efforts so frustrating to employees is the fact that the airline has, as of July, returned to profitability. According to the Union’s District President, a large factor in bringing the carrier back into the black is the hard work of front-line union members. 

“United Airlines has announced record revenue and a return to profitability,” Klemm said in a joint statement signed by union negotiators.  “The very reason this is possible is because of United Airlines employees. Not management. It’s the workers who make this airline fly. It was us who made tens of thousands of calls to elected officials to ensure our airline received the needed aid to survive through the worst downturn in airline industry. It wasn’t because of CEO Kirby and the other airline industry executives. How did CEO Kirby reward our loyalty? He devised a scheme to violate our contracts and force all IAM-represented workers to part-time status. And, now this.” 

United’s announcement that it has returned to profitability owes its existence to the pandemic relief funding, which was awarded following a massive show of support from union members.

Another factor helping to inflate profits, according to industry analysts, is the fact that United is increasingly willing to raise ticket prices. This tactic mirrors the company ethic of bleeding its workers dry and seems to apply to passengers, too. Airfares at United have spiked a staggering 20% since 2019. At the same time, United has slashed seat capacity and used pandemic aid funding to encourage mass employee retirements, leading to crowded planes and chronic staffing shortages.

United earned more than $430 million in the Second Quarter but is struggling to keep pace with profits at competitor airlines, such as American. 

 

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Remember who you’re really working for: Managers think that our jobs should be the most important things in our lives and that everything else should come second. They think that we should put aside things like family, building memories, and just doing nothing at all – and put our work first. There’s nothing wrong with a good, union work ethic. But, sometimes we can forget the people that we go to work for. And, those people are not managers. 

Message from JetBlue Organizers: Personal Time Has Value

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(Message from the JetBlue Organizing Committee. Find out how you can support the effort to bring union rights, wages, and benefits to JetBlue Ground Ops: Contact an organizer HERE>>)

One of the great things about working for a major airline is the ability to travel the world, visit family in different parts of the world and live a life that most people envy. However, to fully enjoy these great benefits, we need to have the ability to use our vacation time.

All IAM major airline contracts have both a vacation and a sick bank (a comparison is on the reverse side of this flyer). This way, if you become ill, you can use your sick time, not the time you have accrued for vacation.

With PTO, it all comes out of the same bank, so if you get sick you will have less paid time off to spend with your family and friends. IAM contracts also guarantee that vacation, whether it be block vacation or day at a time, can be used. Without a contract, JetBlue management can, and does, deny PTO usage.

IAM contracts outline how much block vacation must be posted and granted for each week of the year and how many day at a time vacation days can be granted each day on each shift. Union representatives meet with airline management continually to ensure union members have the right to use their hard-earned vacation time.

Union contracts protect workers’ ability to live a fully human life. And part of being fully human is to be able to spend time away from work with loved ones and live life to the fullest. When we have to depend on the charity of management to approve our paid time off, it’s dehumanizing. That’s what union contracts seek to prevent. 

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United Airlines Negotiations Update: Contract Negotiations Break Down

United Airlines Negotiations Update: Contract Negotiations Break Down

IAM141, United Airlines Contract Negotiations Break Down

18 July 2022

IAM District 141 and United Airlines management met briefly last week in Chicago, IL, to review United management’s “comprehensive” job security proposal. According to the Company, its proposal was designed to “quickly close negotiations.” Unfortunately, United management decided to propose a job security package that is NOT competitive with United’s industry peers and DOES NOT provide the job security and scope of work protections IAM members deserve.

United management’s job security and scope of work proposals would provide fewer protections than we have today, leaving tens of thousands of IAM-represented workers with no job protection at all and increase company outsourcing opportunities. Management’s wage and economic proposals also fall far short of what IAM-represented United employees deserve. United’s competitors, big and small, have surpassed United in the key areas of job security and wages/economics. In fact, United management’s wage proposal would provide a significant real wage cut, considering the current economic climate. Simply put, IAM-represented employees at United deserve much better.

At the same time, due to pushback from United pilots who have halted voting on their recently announced tentative agreement, United management has decided to run back to the negotiating table with them because American Airlines announced larger wage increases for their pilots. However, when we propose contractual terms that already exist in other industry agreements, all we hear is, “that’s bad business, and we have no interest in doing that.”

The concept of expedited negotiations is for both parties to focus on their priorities and to make justified, reasonable proposals that are in line with the industry to EXPEDITE an agreement. We have lived up to this. United management has not.

United Airlines will soon announce record revenue and a return to profitability. The very reason this is possible is because of United Airlines employees. Not management. It’s the workers who make this airline fly. It was us who made TENS OF THOUSANDS of calls to elected officials to ensure our airline received the needed aid to survive through the worst downturn in airline industry. It wasn’t because of CEO Kirby and the other airline industry executives. How did CEO Kirby reward our loyalty? He devised a scheme to violate our contracts and force all IAM-represented workers to part-time status. And, now this.

Unless United management changes course, reworks its current proposals, and offers IAM members at United a fair contract that recognizes our value to our airline, it is highly unlikely that we can reach an agreement in the expedited process. As a result, we have informed the Company that we will not meet face to face and will use the week of July 25th to meet internally.

We will inform the membership of the next steps when they are finalized.

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.

United CSRs in California: Important Information Re: MAP Devices

United CSRs in California: Important Information Re: MAP Devices

ATTENTION All California CSR’s: Important Information Re: MAP Devices

District Lodge 141, along with Local Lodge 1782, addressed the MAP Device Protection Program. United attempted to implement a policy that seems to require that United Airlines’ workers who have been provided iPhones have to buy insurance with respect to the devices.

Six years ago, we corresponded with United and advised them that any requirement that employees buy insurance with respect to company-issued equipment is unlawful.

Apparently United heeded that letter at that time and the Union was successful in getting affected employees refunded.

Under California law, employers must bear all costs of doing business and can’t impose it on employees. See Labor Code Section 2802 which, specifically prohibits any employer from forcing employees to pay for any expenses including insurance on those phones.

The statute also provides for attorney’s fees should the employees have to bring an action to remedy an unlawful requirement that employees bear any costs such as insurance. You also may want to take a look at Cochran vs. Schwan’s Home Service, 228 NLRB Cal.App 4th 1137 (2014) dealing with this issue. The Court was relying upon a California Supreme Court decision which is now 25 years old. Gattuso v. Harte-Hanks Shoppers, Inc. 42 Cal.App.4th 554 (2007). The Union asked United to rescind the policy.

After the Union met with United & HR, United has now agreed once again to reimburse all members in California in the following locations: SFO, SMF, SJC, LAX, SNA, SAN for a total of 539 employees at the total cost of $16,170.

Troy Rivera

Assistant General Chair,

IAMAW District 141

Olu Ajetomobi

Assistant General Chair,

IAMAW District 141

Terry Stansbury

Assistant General Chair,

IAMAW District 141

Mike Klemm

President and Directing General Chair,

IAMAW District 141

Recording Secretaries: Please print and post on all Union Bulletin Boards.