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Survey: 82% of JetBlue Ground Workers Worry About Getting Fired

Aug 3, 2021

A recent survey of 900 Ground Operations workers at JetBlue found that a stunning 82% of respondents reported fearing they might lose their jobs as the pandemic ravaged the airline industry in 2020.

JetBlue Ground Operations Crewmembers can support union organizing by signing a card authorizing a union vote. Add your name at the Justice at JetBlue webpage.

JetBlue Ground Operations workers load and unload baggage, among other tasks, such as moving and inspecting aircraft on the tarmac and at the gate.

While pandemic-related slowdowns in the airline industry are likely driving the unusually high fear of terminations, the survey paints a picture of a tense workplace at JetBlue. 77% of JetBlue Ground Operations workers rated the professionalism of their supervisors at three stars or less on a scale of 0-5, with 5 being the best score. Only 23% of participants gave their supervisors a score higher than three stars. 68% said their supervisors do not respect Ground Operations employees, and 77% reported that management had inconsistent work rules. Complaints of favoritism have plagued the airline for years.

Overall, JetBlue Ground Operations Crewmembers rated the JetBlue workplace three stars out of five, indicating widespread dissatisfaction. 

Union organizers at JetBlue have observed a pervasive climate of fear at the airline. Frank Giannola, Director of Membership Services at District 141 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, suggested the fear of supervisors is fueling in part a recent uptick in union interest at JetBlue. “These guys depend on supervisor grace at an existential level,” he said. “Supervisors at JetBlue have a lot of power compared to other airlines, and a lot of them are bullies,” Giannola said.  “At JetBlue, access to overtime, job security… all of it – is only as secure as their most sadistic supervisor allows it to be.”

Ground Ops: Authorize a union vote at JetBlue >>

One unusual way that JetBlue supervisors exert undue power at the airline is centered on random drug screenings. According to Giannola, management has weaponized random drug tests at JetBlue. The worry isn’t limited to those who are suspected of misuse of illicit substances. “These guys are worried about getting sent home without pay while they wait for the results of a BS drug test to come back,” Giannola said. “This kind of thing is completely unheard of at a union workplace,” he said. “They just don’t mess with union workers like that.”

While low pay and overall compensation were top issues for GO Crewmembers, they were closely tied to the potential for supervisors at the airline to abuse their power. When asked how fairly supervisors applied overtime rules, 86% of respondents awarded JetBlue three stars or less, with only 14% giving the airline a better than mediocre score. Another 14% rated the overtime rules at JetBlue with only one star. Non-union employees can be forced to work past their shifts without being paid a premium for overtime, as long as they don’t go past 40 hours in a week. JetBlue is toying with the idea of changing this rule but hasn’t committed to anything yet. 

IAMAW union contracts require premium overtime pay to kick in when a worker goes past their scheduled work hours, with rules that allow for time-and-a-half and double-time overtime pay. At United, if ground workers are required to work mandatory overtime for two days in a row, their contract requires them to be paid double-time on the second day, and on every consecutive day after that.  

Union members working at airlines could not be subjected to involuntary layoffs throughout the pandemic, including having their hours reduced from full-time to part-time. Airlines that wanted to reduce their workforces had to pay bonuses to encourage retirements. Giannola suggested that JetBlue could avoid layoffs altogether because managers can summarily fire Ground Operations workers instead. “Through the pandemic, if JetBlue wanted to reduce its workforce, they could just fire any non-union people they wanted, for any reason or no stated reason at all. If I had to guess why so many Ground Operations workers were worried about losing their jobs, that would probably be it.”

The survey of 985 current and former JetBlue Ground Operations workers was conducted by phone and email between July 7 and July 23, 2021. 

TAKE ACTION: Authorize a Union Vote at JetBlue Ground Ops>>

 

JetBlue Workplace Survey Results

Overall, how would you rate JetBlue as an employer?

JetBlue Ground Operations Crewmembers rate their workplace three stars out of a possible five, with five being the best score and one being the worst.
Breakdown:

Very good: 14%
Good: 9%
Mediocre: 45%
Poor: 23%
Very Poor: 9%

How would you rate the professionalism of your supervisors?

Very good: 9%
Good: 14%
Mediocre: 36%
Poor: 27%
Very Poor: 14%

Please rate your supervisors on how fairly they enforce work rules.

Very good: 9%
Good: 14%
Mediocre: 27%
Poor: 32%
Very Poor: 18%

Please rate your supervisors on how respectful they are to Ground Ops Crewmembers.

Very good: 14%
Good: 18%
Mediocre: 32%
Poor: 18%
Very Poor: 18%

Please rate the likelihood that, if a JetBlue employee works hard and follows the rules, they will be able to keep their job.

Very good: 23%
Good: 27%
Mediocre: 23%
Poor: 14%
Very Poor: 14%

In the past year, have you personally been worried about losing your job for any reason?

Yes: 82%
No: 18%

Please rate JetBlue policies on BREAK and LUNCH PERIODS.

Very good: 9%
Good: 9%
Mediocre: 27%
Poor: 18%
Very Poor: 36%

How would you rate the current OVERTIME RULES at JetBlue?

Very good: 5%
Good: 9%
Mediocre: 36%
Poor: 36%
Very Poor: 14%

Please rate the current SAFETY PROGRAMS at JetBlue.

Very good: 14%
Good: 9%
Mediocre: 45%
Poor: 9%
Very Poor: 23%

In the past year, have you personally been injured at work?

Yes: 27%
No: 59%
Would rather not say: 14%

(If yes), did your injury result in a loss of work hours? Did you need to miss work as a result?

Yes: 67%
No: 33%

Please rate the PAY AND COMPENSATION at JetBlue.

Very good: 5%
Good: 5%
Mediocre: 45%
Poor: 23%
Very Poor: 23%

I feel that my company values the work I do.

Strongly Agree: 5%
Agree: 5%
Neutral: 27%
Disagree: 27%
Strongly Disagree: 36%

I get enough training and support to do my job properly.

Strongly Agree: 9%
Agree: 27%
Neutral: 23%
Disagree: 27%
Strongly Disagree: 27%

I always feel safe at work.

Strongly Agree: 9%
Agree: 23%
Neutral: 27%
Disagree: 23%
Strongly Disagree: 18%

Workplace Priorities for JetBlue Ground Operations

Premium Pay for certain shifts / Net promoter score: 81.82
Longevity Pay Increases / Net promoter score: 81.82
Profit Sharing Increase / Net promoter score: 72.73
Triple-Time for Holidays Worked / Net promoter score: 81.82
More Defined Holidays / Net promoter score: 68.18
Improved Work – Life Balance / Net promoter score: 88.5

 

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