MIRAMAR, Fl (August 14, 2008) – Spirit pilots, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA), responded today to continued threats of retribution from Spirit management. Pilots calling in sick are facing invasive investigations and possible disciplinary actions. The pilots completely refute the ridiculous claims of management that the pilots have enacted a “sick-in.”
“As in any other profession, employees get sick and are permitted to stay home to recover. Any reputable company respects the need for sick time without making unwarranted and absurd accusations that the employees are conspiring against the company,” said Capt. Sean Creed, MEC chair of the Spirit unit of ALPA.
In August, Spirit management furloughed 45 pilots without a commensurate reduction in Spirit’s scheduled flights. An additional 70 pilots are expected to be furloughed September 1 without any announced change to scheduling. Management has responded to the self-inflicted shortage of pilots by discarding contractual obligations and harassing any pilot who calls in sick or fatigued. The remaining pilots are flying longer hours with shorter rest periods, and many are feeling the physical strain.
In one notable instance, a pilot called in sick and was required to take an ambulance to a company-selected doctor for examination. The doctor confirmed that the pilot was indeed sick and gave the pilot a note declaring that he shouldn’t fly for five days because of his medical condition. Nonetheless, the company subsequently issued a harassing notice of investigation to the pilot in reaction to his sick call.
Pilots face strict guidelines as to when they should fly, as well as what type of medications they may take while flying. For example, pilots with sinus infections or severe colds risk bursting an eardrum if they fly. They also are not allowed to take many common over-the-counter medications while flying because of potential side effects.
“Pilots know their limits, and when they are fit to fly, and when they aren’t,” said Capt. Creed. “Even in the face of management’s threats and intimidation, we’ll continue to be professional and abide by the safety standards. Spirit pilots will go on providing good, safe service to our customers.”