AFL-CIO: Thousands of JetBlue Ground Workers Organizing With Machinists

AFL-CIO: Thousands of JetBlue Ground Workers Organizing With Machinists

Photo Credit: Brian Vega, IAMAW District 141 Social and Visual Media Coordinator.

AFL-CIO: Thousands of JetBlue Ground Workers Organizing With Machinists


AFL-CIO
28 September 2022

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors, and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we’ll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

Exciting news broke this morning that the Machinists (IAM) have filed for a union election on behalf of approximately 3,000 ground operations workers and baggage handlers at JetBlue. These workers say below-standard industry pay rates and benefits, poor and unsafe working conditions, unjustified discipline and terminations, among many other issues, are their reasons for wanting IAM representation and a seat at the table.

“I congratulate all JetBlue Ground Operations workers for uniting in solidarity and demanding that a union representation election be conducted,” said IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. “It’s been a long road for these brave workers to get to this point, and the IAM stands shoulder to shoulder with them. We will mobilize our union’s significant resources to ensure that these brave and resilient JetBlue workers have a fair and free election.”

It’s high time that JetBlue workers gain the dignity and respect of a union contract and a strong voice on the job,” said IAM Air Transport Territory General Vice President Richard Johnsen (not pictured). “When our country needed essential goods and services [sent] to where they were needed most during the pandemic, JetBlue workers answered the bell and risked their lives and health to make that happen. What did they get from management? They got their hours and pay cut because they didn’t have a seat at the table. That will end very soon.”

 

 

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AFL-CIO: Thousands of JetBlue Ground Workers Organizing With Machinists

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Photo Credit: Brian Vega, IAMAW District 141 Social and Visual Media Coordinator.AFL-CIO: Thousands of JetBlue Ground Workers Organizing With MachinistsAFL-CIO28 September 2022Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors,...

AFL-CIO: Thousands of JetBlue Ground Workers Organizing With Machinists

AFL-CIO
28 September 2022


Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors, and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we’ll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

 

Exciting news broke this morning that the Machinists (IAM) have filed for a union election on behalf of approximately 3,000 ground operations workers and baggage handlers at JetBlue. These workers say below-standard industry pay rates and benefits, poor and unsafe working conditions, unjustified discipline and terminations, among many other issues, are their reasons for wanting IAM representation and a seat at the table.

 

“I congratulate all JetBlue Ground Operations workers for uniting in solidarity and demanding that a union representation election be conducted,” said IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. “It’s been a long road for these brave workers to get to this point, and the IAM stands shoulder to shoulder with them. We will mobilize our union’s significant resources to ensure that these brave and resilient JetBlue workers have a fair and free election.”

 

It’s high time that JetBlue workers gain the dignity and respect of a union contract and a strong voice on the job,” said IAM Air Transport Territory General Vice President Richard Johnsen (not pictured). “When our country needed essential goods and services [sent] to where they were needed most during the pandemic, JetBlue workers answered the bell and risked their lives and health to make that happen. What did they get from management? They got their hours and pay cut because they didn’t have a seat at the table. That will end very soon.”

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IAMAW District 141’s 69th Convention: Racking Up Four Years of Union Wins

IAMAW District 141’s 69th Convention: Racking Up Four Years of Union Wins

The achievements celebrated at the event included union victories spanning the full spectrum of airport workplaces, including gate and ticket counters, ramp and ground personnel, janitors, security guards, and instructors. Photos: Brian Vega, IAMAW 141 Communications Coordinator

IAMAW District 141’s 69th Convention: Racking Up Four Years of Union Wins

IAM141.org
25 Spetember 2022

The 69th Convention of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) drew to a close on Thursday, but not before providing an opportunity to recap a long list of remarkable improvements to airline work since the District’s last Convention, held in 2018.

The event drew hundreds of top labor leaders from the airline industry, representing ground, gate, ticket counter, and other airline workers from every major airport in the US.

The achievements celebrated at the event included union victories spanning the full spectrum of airport workplaces, including gate and ticket counters, ramp and ground personnel, janitors, security guards, and instructors.

Highlighting Union Triumphs in Commercial Aviation

The wins included a historic wave of impressive contractual agreements throughout the commercial aviation industry. These included the 2020 negotiation of a first contract at SM Cargo, which was overwhelmingly ratified by the newly organized membership. Another agreement, this one for janitorial workers at Flagship, was approved unanimously by every union member at the company. 

Union Members also overwhelmingly ratified a 2021 agreement at Spirit, the second union contract for fleet service workers at the airline.

“We were extremely proud of the overwhelmingly ratified agreement we negotiated at Spirit Airlines,” said District President Mike Klemm, who led the Convention. “This was only the second contract we negotiated with the carrier, and we all know how challenging those first contracts are to accept for newly organized groups,” he told the delegation. “Our members received wage increases that are, on average, 30% higher than they were previously,” he said to applause. 

“Lead premium increases mean more opportunities for double-time pay, we established new training positions which allow our members to earn even more income from the work they currently already do,” he continued. “But, this Agreement also brings paid vacations to part-time agents. And, for some of those folks, this will be the first real paid vacation they’ve ever known,” Klemm said of the Spirit Agreement. “For those of us at legacy carriers, paid vacations are a normal part of life, but these folks were able to negotiate the first-ever paid vacations, making history at Spirit Airlines.”

 

Last Tuesday, Union Reps attended a formal signing ceremony for the most-recently ratified Agreement at Hawaiian Airlines, which was secured earlier this year. That Agreement will provide significantly improved wage increases and seniority protections for part-timers. Part-timers will also gain access to family health care for the first time in the carriers’ existence. It will also provide better flexibility with day and shift trades and impose financial penalties when the company intrudes on workers’ personal and family time with mandatory overtime.

At United, Calls For Union Members to Email Company Executives

But the main topic at the Convention centered around the contentious negotiations with United Airlines. Although the carrier had committed to producing a solid tentative agreement for union members to vote on by August 1, the talks broke down after weeks of company stonewalling.

 

“The days of Oscar Munoz are over,” President Klemm said of the negotiations. “Oscar was a people person. He cared about people, and he cared about the airline. And, we rewarded that commitment. After that Agreement was reached, United Airlines experienced the best financial success in the history of the carrier,” he went on. “And we showed up. During the pandemic, we couldn’t work from home, or from behind a desk. We were there for this airline when it mattered most. We were there when the carrier went to lawmakers for emergency funds to get through the months when travel was nearly impossible. We produced thousands of calls and visits to lawmakers, securing the money the company needed to survive,” he said.

“The thanks we get for that sacrifice is a slap in the face offer so insulting to this membership that talks broke down through the entire month of August.”

“They’re saying that our members don’t really care about job security, and pay raises that wouldn’t even buy half a gallon of gas are ok,” he said.

“All we’re asking for is that, if we are willing to do right by this company, then this company should do right by us. That’s all we’re asking. If we show up to work, do our jobs well, and honor our commitments to this company, then United should be willing to say, in writing, that they will not arbitrarily decide one day to eliminate or outsource our jobs,” he said to roars of applause from the assembled delegates. 

President Klemm also told the Convention that the recent solidarity actions around the nation have been effective. “They got flustered,” he said. “They didn’t expect to see all the “Contract Now’ signs. They didn’t expect to have their inboxes flooded with emails. When they saw that outpouring of solidarity, they got rattled.” Klemm encouraged the union to step up its already impressive email campaign, as company executives can’t miss personal messages in their inboxes. “If you’ve already written to Kirby, do it again,” he said. “Do it every week. If you know someone that normally sits quietly and lets things play out, encourage them not to sit this one out,” he said. “I have seen how those emails have made the company rethink their position with my own eyes.”

 

For pointers, Klemm told the delegates that personal stories are more effective than insults when writing to Kirby and other company executives. “Tell them how inflation is affecting your family. Tell them how important your job is to you,” Klemm said. “We think that 60% of our members at United have yet to send an email to the company. That means we have a lot more in the tank. If they’re already getting nervous, imagine what can happen if thousands more of us join in.”

JetBlue Files For Representation

The Convention is coming to a close as JetBlue organizing begins a new phase; 3000 Ground Operations Crewmembers successfully filed for a union representation vote at the airline, a first for ground crews. On Friday, the Machinists Union announced that it would file for a union representation vote with the National Mediation Board, the Federal agency that oversees labor law for airlines. The efforts to organize ground operations at JetBlue are led by inside committees staffed by current JetBlue workers. Sensing the campaign was reaching a critical stage, these committees opted to skip the Convention and continue their organizing work.

Even without its entire cadre of organizers, union growth was prominent at the Convention. Speaking at the event was Amazon Labor Union activist Tristan Lion Dutchin, whose efforts to organize the first-ever union at the shipping giant led to his unlawful termination from the Staten Island Facility where he had been employed. His story earned international headlines and helped secure an eventual union win at Amazon. Machinist Union delegates at the Convention, moved by his story, raised a little over $2,000, which they awarded to Dutchin in honor of his dedication to the cause of union organizing.

This was just one of the rounds of donations delegates raised for important charities. Guide Dogs of America, which provides service dogs to veterans, children with autism, and visually impaired persons at no cost, was also championed at the Convention. In all, delegates raised approximately $17,000 for charitable organizations and causes.

Held in Orlando, Florida, from September 20-22, the 69th Convention of Machinists Union District 141 drew 224 delegates from Local Lodges around the nation. Also attending were Machinists Union senior leaders, including General Vice President Richard Johnsen. Johnsen is spearheading a range of innovative new programs at the union, including strengthening alliances with other labor organizations, ensuring that new hires are connected to the larger union, and creating a movement-driven mission for labor. The comments fit into the larger vision that Johnsen has painted for unionism as a vital social cause – and more than a set of membership services.

“All around the nation, people are starting to see the value of their labor and wondering where they fit in. We can be that for them; their work has incredible value to unions and working people. At the end of the day, companies only value money. We, as working people, can be so much more. We can help each other spend more time with our families, work in safer environments, and earn better livelihoods in more rewarding careers. We can do that by acting in union, and bringing the power of collective action to bear for working Americans.”

FAREWELL, OLD FRIEND!
Tony D bid a heartfelt farewell to the many whose lives he’s touched over his long career as District Safety Director today. After an illustrious tenure, he is finally taking a much-deserved retirement. His dedicated service to Machinists Union members was honored with a touching tribute, read formally before the Convention delegates, along with hugs and well-wishes. Congratulations on a truly remarkable career, Brother Tony.

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IAM Files for Union Representation Election for Approximately 3,000 JetBlue Ground Workers

IAM Files for Union Representation Election for Approximately 3,000 JetBlue Ground Workers

IAM Files for Union Representation Election for Approximately 3,000 JetBlue Ground Workers


23 September 2022

WASHINGTON, Sept. 23, 2022 The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), North America’s largest airline union, today announced that it will file an application with the National Mediation Board (NMB), the federal agency that conducts union representation elections in the airline and railroad sectors. The IAM has sufficient interest among JetBlue Fleet Service workers to conduct a union representation election.

“I congratulate all JetBlue Ground Operations workers for uniting in solidarity and demanding that a union representation election be conducted,” said IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. “It’s been a long road for these brave workers to get to this point, and the IAM stands shoulder to shoulder with them. We will mobilize our union’s significant resources to ensure that these brave and resilient JetBlue workers have a fair and free election.”

JetBlue Ground Operations workers rebooted their efforts to gain union representation in 2021 after working through the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused the worst financial downturn in the airline industry’s history.

“It’s high time that JetBlue workers gain the dignity and respect of a union contract, and a strong voice on the job,” said IAM Air Transport Territory General Vice President Richard Johnsen. “When our country needed essential goods and services to where they were needed most during the pandemic, JetBlue workers answered the bell and risked their lives and health to make that happen. What did they get from management? They got their hours and pay cut because they didn’t have a seat at the table. That will end very soon.”

“I also fully expect for JetBlue management to adhere to the law and allow JetBlue workers to vote without influence, coercion and interference from JetBlue management. If not, we will leave no stone unturned to hold them accountable,” continued Johnsen.

JetBlue workers have cited below-standard industry pay rates and benefits, poor and unsafe working conditions, unjustified discipline and terminations, among many other issues as reasons to gain IAM representation and a seat at the table.

“JetBlue workers are a smart, strong and determined group of workers and we can’t wait to welcome them into the IAM family,” said IAM District 141 President Mike Klemm. “The IAM will support JetBlue workers in getting to and winning this election and negotiating a union contract that reflects their true value to JetBlue Airways.”

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers 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.

Get Printable Copy of Press Release >>

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United – Emirates Codeshare: Labor is Watching

United – Emirates Codeshare: Labor is Watching

United – Emirates Codeshare: Labor is Watching

Legislation
16 September 2022

Justice at JetBlue requires Just Cause at JetBlue.

“That’s evidence that they are not focused on profitability. They are just focused on flying the airplane somewhere and having the government subsidize it.” -United CEO Scott Kirby.

“Those airlines aren’t airlines. They’re international branding vehicles for their countries.” -Former United CEO Oscar Munoz.

After years of highlighting the unfair business practices of state-owned enterprises (SOE) such as Emirates, Airlines, and other Middle East carriers, United’s announcement of a new codeshare agreement demands scrutiny.

To protect the jobs of U.S. airline workers, there must be continued financial transparency and improved labor standards that ensure fairness is maintained in all Open Skies and codeshare agreements.

Since the beginning of its existence, Emirates Airlines has been sustained by massive government subsidies, unrelated to the global pandemic, used to expand far beyond what market forces could ever support. Their growth, including the Dubai-Athens-Newark service and Milan service, was only possible because of the enormous Emirati funding the airline received. These subsidies put U.S. airlines at a tremendous economic disadvantage and threaten U.S. airline workers’ jobs. American workers can compete with any foreign airline when on a level playing field. We cannot compete against entire countries.

Although the United States and United Arab Emirates signed an agreement in 2018 regarding these issues, the fact remains that there are currently no independent labor unions in the United Arab Emirates. This has led to a systemic, unacceptable assault on airline workers’ rights, with alarming accounts of unfair labor practices and intimidation by employers.

United Airlines employees and union leadership will be watching closely to ensure our scope provisions are rigorously followed and demand the highest labor standards are adhered to across all partnerships. We will act swiftly if needed to protect our long-term career security.

In Unity,

Ken Diaz MEC President AFA-UAL

Richard Johnsen General V/P IAM-UAL

Mike Hamilton Master Chair ALPA-UAL

Craig Symons President PAFCA-UAL

Joe Ferreira Dir. Airline Div. IBT-UAL

 

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JetBlue Management Ramps Up Write-Ups and Terminations After Peak Summer Travel

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JetBlue Management Cracks Down on Discipline, Write-Ups and Terminations After Peak Summer Travel

Organizing
15 September 2022

Justice at JetBlue requires Just Cause at JetBlue.

Reports around the system are that JetBlue supervisors are turning up the heat and starting to discipline and terminate GO Crewmembers for things that supervisors looked the other way on when they needed all hands on deck during the peak summer travel season.

When GO Crewmembers have a Union Contract, unjustified discipline and terminations will stop. GO Crewmembers will have access to a fair grievance procedure that is NOT controlled by JetBlue management. GO Crewmembers will have trained GO Crewmember Union Representatives that will defend GO Crewmembers who are disciplined or terminated without “Just Cause.”

Every Union Contract contains a “just cause” provision, which has seven tests. If any of the seven tests are not met, then discipline cannot be issued. 

 

These are the seven tests:
(1) Did the employee know the company’s policy;
(2) Is the company’s policy reasonable;
(3) Did the company investigate to determine if the employee violated the policy;
(4) Was the investigation fair and objective;
(5) Did substantial evidence exist of the employee’s violation of the policy;
(6) Was the company’s policy consistently applied; and
(7) Is the discipline reasonable and proportional (did the punishment fit the crime?).

If any of the above tests are not met, then the discipline is unjustified.

Without having “just cause,” JetBlue management can discipline and terminate Crewmembers at any time for any reason. It’s called “at will employment.” The CBB states in part: The guidelines presented in the Blue Book are not intended and will in no way be considered to be a contract of employment between JetBlue and any Crewmember…no Crewmember of JetBlue has a contract of employment. [JetBlue] reserves the right to accept a resignation or to separate the employment relationship at any time within the Company’s discretion…JetBlue management has the sole prerogative and discretion to determine the seriousness of violations.

It’s time for change.

 

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Frontline Power Is Essential to Rebuilding the Labor Movement

Frontline Power Is Essential to Rebuilding the Labor Movement

Frontline Power Is Essential to Rebuilding the Labor Movement

Labor Notes
Excerpted from Democracy Is Power: Rebuilding Unions from the Bottom Up by Mike Parker and Martha Gruelle, available from the Labor Notes store ($15).

Union democracy—defined as rank-and-file power—is the essential ingredient for restoring the power of the labor movement.

Many leaders of the labor movement know that they need members in motion if they’re to win anything. But too many envision a mobilized labor movement as troops ready to respond to the commands of their officers. Top-down control seems so efficient, and times are desperate. Do we really need democracy to have a movement? After all, aren’t people interested in results—not procedures?

There’s a grain of truth to this argument. Among many members, there’s a desire for a “powerful provider” to fight management for them. But even if top-down leadership could get results in the short term, in the long term a union without active members is a union without power—and the bosses know it.

One reason is the very conditions of global capitalism. Global competition means first and foremost that the labor movement must constantly spread. There is no security in organizing one workplace, one industry, or one company. If the organizing does not keep spreading to “take labor out of competition,” union conditions will die.

This process of continuous organization requires not thousands but millions of organizers—millions of workers who tell their sisters, cousins, friends, and lovers they’d be crazy not to join a union. Not millions of members who, when asked, answer, “Yeah, I was in a union once, they didn’t do anything for me.”

If we want members to go out and recruit, then the union has to deliver in the workplaces of the already organized. Members who see their union as a partner with management or as another boss will not carry a strong union vision to their non-union sisters and brothers.

After all, workers who want a union where they work are the ones that management calls troublemakers. It takes only a few moments with these troublemakers to understand that those who refuse to accept injustice from management will not accept it from union leaders either. If we are to recruit, organizers have to be able to look these potential members in the eye when they say, “Your union will belong to you.”

PREPARING THE GROUND

Unions have grown the most in surges, when hundreds of thousands of workers were inspired to act, rather than by slow accretion, one drive at a time. No one knows what will touch off the next upsurge in American history. We do know that we can’t make it happen just by having the right ideas and working hard. Movements grow in part when people respond to big changes in the economy and society.

Does this mean we should just sit back and wait? Far from it. We need to do everything we can to grow now, but in a way that prepares our organizations. We need democratic unions today, to train thousands of leaders and members who’ll be able to step up when the time demands.

In the end, the goal of our movement is not just bigger unions. It’s for working people to function as human beings—not bootlickers, not cogs—starting with our jobs, where we spend most of our waking hours. When we leave our jobs at the end of the day, we should be as healthy as when we started. We should be able to look at the next day, and our retirement years, with a feeling of security, not dread.

Our larger goal is for workers to exert power collectively in the workplace and society—and for that you need much more than bigger unions. You need powerful workers.

The above is an excerpt from Democracy Is Power: Rebuilding Unions from the Bottom Up by Mike Parker and Martha Gruelle. The book is back in print and available from the Labor Notes store ($15).

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