JetBlue pilots twice previously rejected unionization, but consolidation in the U.S. airline industry may have contributed to the pro-union vote this time. If the pilots aren't organised it would be difficult for them to have a say on any issues of substance should JetBlue decide to accept any merger proposals in the future.
JetBlue has more than 2,600 pilots, currently nonunion, and ALPA says pilot representatives will now set out to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement with the airline.
“As committed as we are to our objectives, we also want to work with management to ensure we continue to contribute positively to JetBlue’s success,” stated Captains Gustavo Rivera and Rocky Durham, co-chairs of the JetBlue Organizing Committee. “We believe in JetBlue and look forward to helping make this company one of the best in the industry.”
JetBlue confirmed the vote and said the airline and the union will now form negotiating committees.
Pilots at JetBlue had twice previously turned back unionization efforts, but in a briefing today ALPA president Lee Moak said a determining factor this time around is that the airline landscape has changed in the U.S.
“I think they decided to organize so they are at the table” in talks in Washington about airline policy and also as a hedge in light of any merger and acquisition activity, Moak said.
JetBlue pilots will now choose representatives for negotiations with the airlines, Moak said, adding that he believes a contract can be negotiated “in short order.”
The airline has noted in financial dislcosures that unionization of its employees “could result in demands that may increase our operating expenses and adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations.”
JetBlue pilots generally have five-year contracts with no-layoff clauses, although they can be fired for cause.
Here’s a video statement from ALPA president Captain Lee Moak:
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Photo credit: A JetBlue Airbus A320 air plane is pictured on the tarmac at a ground breaking ceremony for the first Airbus U.S. assembly plant in Mobile, Alabama April 8, 2013. Airbus broke ground on a plane assembly plant in Mobile, Alabama, on Monday, a big step toward making its first U.S. plant a reality in a bid to win market share from Boeing Co. Lyle Ratliff / Reuters