Flights Currently Cancelled Through Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Following the failure of negotiations to reach an agreed
settlement over the weekend, the pilots of Spirit Airplanes went on
strike Saturday, and show no signs of returning any time soon.
According to ALPA, 'At 5:01 a.m., June 12, Spirit pilots,
represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA),
went on strike against their company—and will not return to
the cockpit until a fair and equitable contract is negotiated.
Pilot negotiators agreed to extend the strike deadline twice in
order to review final proposals put forth by both parties to keep
the airline running. In the end, both sides could not reach an
“Immediately after 5:00 a.m., the Spirit Pilot Master
Executive Council, as authorized by our pilots, called for and
instituted a lawful strike against our
management,” announced Captain Sean Creed, head of the
Spirit unit of ALPA.
“Spirit pilots are willing to withdraw their services to
get the contract they deserve,” said Captain John Prater,
president of ALPA. “Every one of the 53,000 pilots of ALPA
stands with them as they go on strike. As pilots, our livelihood is
in the air—not on the picket line—but the inability of
Spirit management to negotiate a contract that adequately
compensates our professional members has created this dispute. I
urge Spirit management to reconsider their position on the value of
their experienced and professional airline pilots.”
ALPA notes that the strike comes after nearly four years of
contract negotiations and numerous attempts by the pilots to find a
middle ground with management and avoid a strike. All Spirit
pilots, especially first officers, have been working at
below-market rates for years, and under substandard work rules.
To those a mite puzzled by why a strike was called in the middle
of an economic downturn, Spirit also seems to be somewhat taken
aback. The airline claims that "pilots would have earned an
additional 47% in compensation over five years and further bonuses
and extras paying many pilots over $200,000 annually."
"It is surprising to me that ALPA would turn down this generous
offer that would have paid senior captains over $200,000 per year,"
says Spirit Airlines President and CEO Ben Baldanza. "I am
concerned that our employees are being used in a broader political
game that may not be in the interest of their careers or their
families. This deal should be about Spirit and Spirit only, not
about the pilots whose contracts are under negotiation at other
ALPA carriers, but it would appear other forces have
Spirit claims to have offered a 'double-digit percent in salary
increase and also adds that the pilots would have retained a
four-day off break between each and every trip, 'a feature not
found in any other ALPA contract,' and another major issue of the
negotiations. Despite not being favored by Spirit, the four-day off
issue was a continuous sticking point for ALPA.
In addition, under the offer each pilot would have received a
$3,000 signing bonus. The pilots would also receive an eight
percent 401K match in years one through three with an increase to
nine percent in year four, while all other Spirit employees only
receive a three percent match. A company statement opines that
"Spirit pilots at the negotiating table worked incredibly hard and
Spirit stepped up with them to get a contract that works for all
parties and ensures the long-term growth and stability of the
company and its pilots. Spirit's offer to ALPA addressed all of the
union's major requests."
In the meantime, thousands of flyers have been left stranded,
especially in light of the fact that few airlines are offering to
help out Spirit passengers by honoring the canceled tickets. For
the moment, passengers are being forced to rebook on other airlines
and often at costs much greater than the prices that they had
already paid to Spirit.
Spirit is processing future flight credits for customers for the
full amount of their unflown flight purchase, and is also giving
them a $100 future flight credit.