JetBlue Airways faces first union election

Rez O. Lewshun

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Looks like SWAPA union Prez, Kuwitzky has had media training and the JBPA rep, Evans, needs it....

Good luck JPBA, make good use of my contribution$!

AP
JetBlue Airways faces first union election
Friday December 19, 1:56 pm ET
By David Koenig, AP Airlines Writer JetBlue Airways pilots ready to vote on union; organizers say they are 'realistic' about wages

DALLAS (AP) -- Since it began flying in 2000, JetBlue Airways has operated free of labor unions as part of a strategy to keep labor costs below those at highly unionized competitors.
That could change next month, however, when JetBlue pilots begin voting on a proposal to form their own union to bargain over wages, benefits and other issues.


Leaders of the organizing campaign hope to pattern their group after the pilots' union at Southwest Airlines Co., which is ironic because JetBlue itself was patterned after Southwest's low-fare model.
Southwest has enjoyed relative labor peace despite having one of the highest percentages of union workers among U.S. carriers. JetBlue pilots say they too want to avoid the kind of bitter labor-management fighting common at other airlines, and say they will be realistic about wages while the recession cuts into demand for air travel.
JetBlue lost money for three straight years, turned a profit last year, but lost $19 million through the first nine months of 2008. It delayed delivery of 31 jets and no longer expects to grow next year.
"I think we're below average in just about every measure of compensation, but today is not the time to be asking for money," says Bill Evans, a Boston-based pilot. "We know we're facing a severe economic situation."


Mike Sorbie, another member of the organizing drive, said union representation would help the pilots win better health and retirement benefits and protect their seniority rights in case JetBlue merges with another airline. Seniority dictates which pilots get the best-paying assignments and which ones lose their jobs first in a downturn like the one now facing the industry. And when airlines merge, seniority fights can get ugly.
Leaders of the JetBlue Pilots Association collected enough signed cards from pilots favoring a union to force an election, which will run from Jan. 6 until Feb. 3. The pilots association says it is confident of winning.
The JetBlue group elected to form an independent union rather than become part of the larger Air Line Pilots Association, or ALPA. Many JetBlue pilots came from ALPA carriers with hostile labor-management relations.


"We wanted to see if there was a model of success instead of becoming discouraged by all the models of failure," Evans said.


JetBlue opposes a union but declined to make an official available for comment. In a statement, spokesman Todd Burke said, "We believe a direct relationship with the company is in the pilots' best interest."
Unions, with the power to bargain over wages and benefits, have long been thought to increase costs at airlines. But Anthony Sabino, a business and law professor at St. John's University who has represented creditors in airline bankruptcy cases, said a union would not have much clout while the airline industry is losing billions.
In the current climate, "even a unionized work force doesn't have much leverage," Sabino said. "When the boom cycle returns it might be different, but right now the first order of business for everybody at JetBlue -- like everybody at all the other carriers -- is survival."


New York-based JetBlue has more than 1,900 pilots and a total of about 11,500 employees, including nearly 3,000 part-timers.
In 2006, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers tried to organize the company's baggage handlers but failed to get enough workers to sign cards for an election.
Pilots Evans and Sorbie said they decided to form an independent union so it would be more in tune with JetBlue's needs. But independent unions can be just as adversarial as bigger ones such as ALPA.
At American, the independent Allied Pilots Association regularly clashes with management. Pilots have tried to strike and conduct sickouts. The two sides have made little progress in two years of contract negotiations, leading the union to take out billboards blasting the company.


Even at Southwest, it's not all hugs and kisses. Pilots and other workers have picketed to protest slow contract negotiations, and they worry that deals with Canadian and Mexican airlines could threaten their jobs.
"We have our spats with management, but we can't get a divorce; we're stuck with each other," said Carl Kuwitzky, president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots' Association. "The company has to succeed for our pilots to do well."
Kuwitzky said he was puzzled by JetBlue's opposition to unions, noting that Southwest co-founder Herb Kelleher helped set a conciliatory tone by recognizing the pilots' union without forcing them to hold a federally sanctioned election.


William Swelbar, a researcher at MIT and director of Hawaiian Airlines parent Hawaiian Holdings Inc., said JetBlue needs to remain flexible and avoid rigid work rules, especially during an industry downturn. If JetBlue and its pilots can do that, "there should be no reason to believe that the carrier's labor-cost advantage will be undermined by the pilots forming an in-house union," Swelbar said. "Southwest has proven this over the past three decades."
 

UpNDownGuy

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Looks like SWAPA union Prez, Kuwitzky has had media training and the JBPA rep, Evans, needs it....
It looks like you have an opinion. It also looks like you have no idea what you're talking about. What exactly is your problem with what Bill said?
 

Rez O. Lewshun

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It looks like you have an opinion. It also looks like you have no idea what you're talking about. What exactly is your problem with what Bill said?

First, what did Evans mean exactly... did he mean that ALL unions are failures, which might be the case, or did he mean of ALL the unions out there, we don't want to be like the ones that have failed. In which case, who has not failed? SWAPA? If so, why? Because they have a management that views unions as partners to company success? Then why would Kuwitzky say what he did about SWA and JB management?

Either way, Evans tried to jack JBPA up by jacking down who he determines is a failure.

If you look at Kuwitzky's statements, they are much more realistic. And when he does take a jab it is more at management, not future fellow unions.

Who are the union failures Evens is talking about? The big elephant in the room? It is obvious that JPBA wants nothing to do with ALPA. They are aligning with CAPA and using SWAPA as a mentor and guide. Will JBPA purchase union services from ALPA as does SWAPA?

But is there a reason to take a veiled shot at other unions? JBPA isn't even a union yet, maybe they should focus on their success instead of calling out other unions....

Rather a statement such as "with the support of other unions, the unique needs of the JB pilots can be best represented by the JBPA". or something to the effect of that...

As an ALPA member/volunteer and a JBPA contributor Evan's comments go against the grain....

Look, the JBPA OC is a new organization. I understand that and Evans comments. Its fine. To be honest, the JB should go ALPA, because as soon as the JBPA get certified, all the questions about national resources and international issues will come up. With foreign ownership and cabotage becoming real threats, Neeleman in Brazil and LH being a player on the JB BOD, knowing how to operate in the int'l aviation world will be critical. Even unions like SWAPA know this...

Regardless, JB pilots need representation.

My opinion, as requested....
 
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bluesideup340

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Rather a statement such as "with the support of other unions, the unique needs of the JB pilots can be best represented by the JBPA". or something to the effect of that...

Until we do the Airtran thing
AIRLINE INDUSTRY

Pilots unions to merge

At AirTran: Independent group plans talks with larger association to switch.

By Kelly Yamanouchi
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Saturday, December 20, 2008
The Air Line Pilots Association has endorsed a merger with AirTran Airways’ independent pilots union and plans to enter into merger negotiations in January.
The National Pilots Association, which represents more than 1,600 AirTran pilots, last week met with ALPA, the nation’s largest pilots union, and with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

ALPA then passed a resolution endorsing a merger with the NPA, noting that NPA had passed a similar resolution.
A merger would essentially mean a switch of representation to ALPA and would be put to a vote. ALPA plans to make presentations to AirTran pilots on the benefits.
“If they elect to join ALPA, AirTran pilots would continue to make the decisions on the issues that affect them, but they would also gain access to unmatched resources and decades of experience in collective bargaining, contract enforcement, aviation safety, and many other aspects of the piloting profession,” said ALPA president John Prater in a written statement.
Orlando-based AirTran has its main hub in Atlanta and its pilots are based here.
Teamsters airline division director David Bourne said after his meeting with NPA that he does not plan to pursue a more official relationship,
Underlying moves for a switch in representation are unresolved contract talks between AirTran and its pilots.
 

Bavarian Chef

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First, what did Evans mean exactly... did he mean that ALL unions are failures, which might be the case, or did he mean of ALL the unions out there, we don't want to be like the ones that have failed. In which case, who has not failed? SWAPA? If so, why? Because they have a management that views unions as partners to company success? Then why would Kuwitzky say what he did about SWA and JB management?

Either way, Evans tried to jack JBPA up by jacking down who he determines is a failure.

If you look at Kuwitzky's statements, they are much more realistic. And when he does take a jab it is more at management, not future fellow unions.

Who are the union failures Evens is talking about? The big elephant in the room? It is obvious that JPBA wants nothing to do with ALPA. They are aligning with CAPA and using SWAPA as a mentor and guide. Will JBPA purchase union services from ALPA as does SWAPA?

But is there a reason to take a veiled shot at other unions? JBPA isn't even a union yet, maybe they should focus on their success instead of calling out other unions....

Rather a statement such as "with the support of other unions, the unique needs of the JB pilots can be best represented by the JBPA". or something to the effect of that...

As an ALPA member/volunteer and a JBPA contributor Evan's comments go against the grain....

Look, the JBPA OC is a new organization. I understand that and Evans comments. Its fine. To be honest, the JB should go ALPA, because as soon as the JBPA get certified, all the questions about national resources and international issues will come up. With foreign ownership and cabotage becoming real threats, Neeleman in Brazil and LH being a player on the JB BOD, knowing how to operate in the int'l aviation world will be critical. Even unions like SWAPA know this...

Regardless, JB pilots need representation.

My opinion, as requested....
Look at the sentence immediately prior to Bill's quote. There's your answer.

"Many JetBlue pilots came from ALPA carriers with hostile labor-management relations.

'We wanted to see if there was a model of success instead of becoming discouraged by all the models of failure," Evans said.'"


I took that to mean that there were examples out there of "hostile labor-management" relationships, and that the JBPA was hoping to emulate a model of a successful "labor-management" relationship, i.e. SWAPA.

I think he was calling out the relationship, not the union.
 

Rez O. Lewshun

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Valid point...

SWAPA enjoys something they really can't control.... a management team that views unions as partners.

Unfortunately for most airline pilots including JB, management is anti union. In fact Neeleman has planted very anti union seeds at JB....
 

The Boss

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"Many JetBlue pilots came from ALPA carriers with hostile labor-management relations.
I don't think that has anything to do with ALPA. Southwest's culture has been "Employees first, customers second, shareholders third". I think most of the legacies have it exactly turned around with shareholders first and employees a necessary evil.

Look at relations between Airtran mgt and pilots. Look at the relationship between American mgt and pilots. They are not rosy to say the least and neither is ALPA.

Until management realizes they have to change their way of treating employees, the relationship with a union - no matter which union it is - will never change.

I really don't think things will be as amicable between the JBPA and Jet Blue mgt as the pilots think - just because they are not ALPA.
 
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Bavarian Chef

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I don't think that has anything to do with ALPA. Southwest's culture has been "Employees first, customers second, shareholders third". I think most of the legacies have it exactly turned around with shareholders first and employees a necessary evil.

Look at relations between Airtran mgt and pilots. Look at the relationship between American mgt and pilots. They are not rosy to say the least and neither is ALPA.

Until management realizes they have to change their way of treating employees, the relationship with a union - no matter which union it is - will never change.

I really don't think things will be as amicable between the JBPA and Jet Blue mgt as the pilots think - just because they are not ALPA.
Remember Boss, that's not my quote, btw. It's a quote from an article.

I agree wit you. JB management is giving us a glimpse of what those relationships will be like down the road.
 

727Niteflyer

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just wait till one day you get a bean counter in managment that thinks pilots are way overpaid and underworked.

He will start with pay, benefits, cancel vacation because pilots already enjoy a lot of time off.

Than he will use words like efficiency, productivity and utilization. And how training is non productive. And look for ways to get more productivity out of the labor.

He will then look at the nice hotels you stay at. Soon you will be staying in comfort inns, clarions and Laquintas.

soon you will have no benefits, no vacations, and work more for the same money. Your layovers will be garbage.

Other managment will hail him has a hero because he is saving so much money. he will enjoy bonuses at your expense.

And then you will look at your fellow aviators and say, "Sh&t we should have voted in a union".
 

J.Otto

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thumbs down to a union at b6. i know guys who dont want it there.
 

Bavarian Chef

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Fins Up

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thumbs down to a union at b6. i know guys who dont want it there.
I also know a few gust at b6 who don't want it there. However, I work at b6 and I'm voting for JBPA.
 

Ty Webb

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I also know of a few pilots at AirTran who don't want ALPA on the property . . . not surprisingly, most of them are not in "good standing" with ALPA.
 

MD80DRVR

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The vote started on the 6th I believe. The window is like 3-4 weeks. I haven't received my voting instructions yet. Count me as a gauranteed "yes" vote.:beer:
 

AKAAB

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The vote is in progress right now.

The NMB mailed the ballot instruction on January 6th and pilots are starting to report their delivery from the USPS. The election closes on February 3rd.

I will not not vote!
 

Homer Jay

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I also know of a few pilots at AirTran who don't want ALPA on the property . . . not surprisingly, most of them are not in "good standing" with ALPA.
Don't worry. ALPA will take the scabs back. They took a lot of them back at CAL. It's all about the $$...
 

Rez O. Lewshun

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Don't worry. ALPA will take the scabs back. They took a lot of them back at CAL. It's all about the $$...

No rather it is about the law... if those scabs are in good standing at the NPA then the merging union has to take in the old scabs.... however, the NEW union can mandate that the scabs pay back out standing dues. If the scabs do not, then they can be kicked out of the new union...

So really it isn't about ALPA, it is about the Air Tran pilots NOW and then who have allowed these scab pilots to be in good standing at the NPA....
 
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