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Fri, Apr 05, 2024

JetBlue Pilots Notify Airline of CBA Negotiations

Official Process of Haggling a New Contract Opens Anew After Failed Merger

JetBlue Airways pilots will soon begin the lengthy march towards a new contract with their employer, after serving written notice to management to begin negotiations.

As always, the process falls under the Railway Labor Act, forcing their hands and codifying a number of delays, periods, and rules onto the ongoing duel of bureaucrats. The Air Line Pilots Association is again taking point on this one, representing the JetBlue pilot base with their Master Executive Council. Under Section 6 of the RLA, their notice to management stating that they intend to open negotiations is sufficient to begin the structured process. JetBlue folks drew the short straw in this round, lagging everyone else in the industry as the legacies got to negotiate their contracts at the height of the hiring boom. JetBlue put off its negotiations, believing that it would be better to haggle it out once they completed their merger with Spirit... but the US government put a stop to that. Now, JetBlue pilots are trying to play catch-up, from a weaker position than they would have enjoyed when they started the process in 2022. Now, even ALPA says that there are plenty of ATP-rated pilots for the industry, with hiring slowing down across the board, multiple carriers pausing new hire classes, and Boeing's continued screwups dragging down growth, it's an uphill battle for class-leading compensation.

ALPA negotiators seem ready for the fight, however. "Making this airline a career destination for our 5,000 pilots, as well as the next generation of JetBlue pilots, should be fundamental to the airline's business plan to move forward after the scuttled merger with Spirit Airlines and to grow and return to sustained profitability," said Capt. Justin Houck, head of the JetBlue ALPA Master Executive Council. "That starts with a contract that properly values our pilots' singular contribution to the current and future success of our airline."

"JetBlue pilots put our full contract on hold while the Company pursued the merger. We now expect the Company to come to the bargaining table prepared to negotiate terms on pay and working conditions in line with the standards and direction of the industry," said Houck. "Today, there is no more important and necessary investment in the future success of our airline than in its professional, highly trained, and dedicated pilots."

FMI: www.alpa.org

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