JetBlue Wrongly Cut Hours, Pay, and Benefits

 

Robin Hayes, CEO JetBlue Airways Inc.
27-01 Queens Plaza North
Long Island City, NY 11101

November 8, 2021

CEO Hayes,

As expected, you did not respond to a letter sent to you on October 11, 2021. Instead, you had Alex Battaglia, JetBlue Head of Airports and System Operations, respond for you. In the aforementioned letter, a member of my staff requested that you reimburse JetBlue employees who wrongly had their hours, pay and benefits cut last year after JetBlue management took approximately $2 billion in tax-payer funded grants and loans under the Payroll Support Program (PSP) component of the CARES Act.

For this reason, the IAM will mobilize our Legislative Department. We will reach out to key federal lawmakers, inform them that JetBlue management took almost $2 billion in federal tax- payer funds and then cut the hours, pay and benefits of hundreds, if not thousands, of JetBlue workers in potential violation of federal law. At present, you may ignore the IAM, but ignoring the questions of federal lawmakers would likely not be a good strategy.

Mr. Battaglia’s response, both to the IAM and GO Crewmembers, contained some very questionable claims. Besides, in our opinion, wrongly claiming that JetBlue was in compliance with federal mandates concerning accepting PSP funds, he also appeared to kick off JetBlue’s anti-workplace democracy campaign by attempting to influence GO Crewmember’s decision to request a union representation election take place.

Besides patting himself on the back for taking basic pandemic safety measures, like installing hand sanitizer stations and plexiglas in gate areas and supplying surgical masks, Mr. Battaglia also took the time to spew the typical misrepresentations and falsehoods associated with attempting to influence and coerce JetBlue workers from exercising their right to form a union and gain collective bargaining rights.

Among the falsehoods and misrepresentations was Battaglia’s claim that JetBlue management “live[d] up to its no its no furlough promise”. Mr. Battaglia should know that because JetBlue management took billions of dollars in federal PSP funds, JetBlue was PROHIBITED BY LAW from furloughing any workers. To take credit for this is a clear attempt to deceive GO Crewmembers that it was the kindness JetBlue management that was the reason that no JetBlue

workers were furloughed. No JetBlue workers were laid off, as you know, because of the protections provided by under the CARES Act. A law, by the way, that was enacted due to the activism of IAM members and the labor movement as a whole.

Mr. Battaglia also claimed that “if a union were elected the Airports Compensation Advisory Team (ACAT) review would stop.” That would only be true if JetBlue management decided to stop the ACAT review. CEO Hayes, the IAM, as we have said before, demands that you raise the wages of GO Crewmembers right now. What’s to review? JetBlue just reported a Q3 profit of

$190 million. GO Crewmembers deserve exactly what was promised in 2019 and then some. They deserve significant improvements to their benefits and working conditions, as well. The IAM demands that be done now, so any assertion that electing a union would halt the process is another sad attempt to deceive JetBlue GO Crewmembers.

JetBlue GO Crewmembers deserve so much more than they are receiving. They deserve the respect to negotiate and vote on their terms of employment.

The truth is that JetBlue management will do everything in its power to coerce GO Crewmembers against forming a union. JetBlue management knows that by unionizing GO Crewmembers will be able to gain the power needed to secure a legally binding contract that they deserve, which recognizes their value to JetBlue Airways. JetBlue management also knows it will lose the power to dictate every aspect of GO Crewmembers working lives if these brave, dedicated workers join a union.

Lastly, the IAM will act to defend GO Crewmembers’ federal right to join a union and will not tolerate JetBlue management’s interference in the exercise of such rights.

Respectfully,

Richard Johnsen
Chief of Staff to the International President, Transportation
International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, AFL-CIO

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

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