JetBlue Airways Corp. flight attendants voted to join the Transport Workers Union, becoming only the second employee group represented by organized labor at the New York-based carrier.
Flight attendants voted 2,661 to 1,387 in favor of joining the TWU, the union said in an emailed statement Tuesday. Two earlier attempts to organize the group failed, although those efforts didn’t get to a vote. JetBlue aviators joined the Air Line Pilots Association in 2014 and still are negotiating their initial contract.
Adding another collective-bargaining unit raises the prospect of higher costs at JetBlue as it negotiates pay rates and new, less flexible work rules for its 4,800 flight attendants. The carrier for years has touted the value of its “direct relationship” with employees over having to work through unions.
The flight attendants sought representation, in part, to improve wages and increase job protection — particularly in the event of any mergers involving JetBlue — and to have a voice in lobbying policy makers on issues affecting the industry.
JetBlue was little changed at $19.76 at 2:48 p.m. in New York.
The biggest U.S. airlines typically have at least four unions, representing pilots, flight attendants, mechanics and ramp workers.
“We believe that working together, not through a third party, results in faster, better outcomes for our crew members,” JetBlue said in a statement before the vote. “We are a small player in an industry dominated by four large carriers, and want everyone at JetBlue united on fighting the competition, not each other.”
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