Spirit Pilots take first step in process that could lead to strike


WASHINGTON – Tired of management’s contempt for the pilots’ existing contract and refusal to negotiate a new one, the pilots of Spirit Airlines, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association Int’l (ALPA), today announced they would ask the National Mediation Board (NMB) to release them from contract negotiations. This release could lead to a work stoppage. Spirit pilots are entering their third year of negotiations for a new contract.

In a letter to the company, ALPA called out management for blatantly violating a number of crucial work rules in the current contract and for claiming it had the unilateral right to do so whenever it wanted to save money. One of those rules, scheduled time off after a trip, is a provision that the pilots gave much to preserve in the last round of concession bargaining, including taking less pay. In the current round of bargaining, Spirit management proposed to take this benefit away in exchange for industry-standard pay. Now it states it has the right to take it for nothing. ALPA will not allow this to happen.

“Management’s unilateral decision to strip us of this basic quality-of-life provision, one that we hold near and dear and paid to preserve, has antagonized and demoralized the pilots and our families,” said Capt. Sean Creed, chairman of the Spirit pilots’ union. “Time off, which is guaranteed by our contract after flying for several days in a row, enables us to share parenting duties with working spouses and preserve a reasonable life style.”

ALPA’s letter goes on to say that management’s recent decision to disregard scheduled time off is the culmination of a series of recent bogus interpretations of the contract, violating unquestioned past practices and interpretations agreed to by both sides over the past ten years. These include a decision to delay the time at which pilots are considered to have blocked out for purposes of pay, a change in eligibility for per diem and hotel accommodations during training, and a decision to change the administrator of the pilot 401k plan without the approval of the pilots. These actions indicate utter contempt for the obligations in the agreement, the bargaining process, the union, and Spirit’s dedicated pilots.

ALPA has also said that it will take appropriate legal action to force the company to adhere to the contract and reverse this abrogation of one of the most crucial provisions of the pilots’ agreement.

Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilot union, representing 55,000 cockpit crewmembers at 40 airlines in the US and Canada.