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Mar 1, 2006
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Spirit pilots reject contract offer, raise strike possibility

Pilots at Spirit Airlines have rejected the latest contract proposal from management and say talks have deteriorated to the point where the union might seek permission to strike, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports. The paper writes Spirit's "growth to new destinations in Latin America and the Caribbean has become a bone of contention. The union claims it is essentially being asked to finance the company's expansion by flying to more places with fewer pilots and for less pay and benefits."
The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) claims that management is "reneging" on previous tentative agreements that two sides reached during more than two years of talks, according to the Sun-Sentinel. Capt. Sean Creed, Spirit's local union chairman, tells the Sun-Sentinel the proposed contract calls for $5.8 million in concessions and is "completely a take, take, take, take on (management’s) part with virtually no benefit to us." He tells the paper the contract terms come even though Spirit is spending millions to expand in Latin America. If Spirit does not come around on the agreements, then the union says it will begin exploring strike options.
As for Spirit, the Sun-Sentinel writes "Spirit has been adjusting its business model — including contracts with pilots and other vendors — in order to be financially successful and be able to offer passengers more travel options, (CEO Ben) Baldanza said. The pilots' existing contract, signed in 2003, doesn't reflect the economic hardship and uncertainty facing Spirit and the rest of the industry today, he said." The Sun-Sentinel says Baldanza would not go into specifics, but he did tell The Miami Herald the latest contract proposal "assures Spirit's competitiveness in the industry and allows it to grow. . . . The process is a back-and-forth process. The last volley they don't like from us, but there are more volleys to go.''