Saturday, November 15, 2008

Pilots petition to form JetBlue's first union

JetBlue A320Pilots at JetBlue Airways have filed a petition with the National Mediation Board (NMB) seeking union representation. The JetBlue Pilots Association, organized as an independent union, wants to be recognized as the sole bargaining agent for the nearly 2,000 pilots of JetBlue. Until now, none of the work groups at JetBlue have been unionized.

JetBlue Pilots Association leaders Captains Michael Sorbie and William Evans said in a joint statement on the Association's website, "We have complete faith in our current company leadership and believe that this will be a cooperative effort. As our airline matures, we want to ensure that the career expectations of our pilots will remain intact regardless of organizational changes. We welcome the opportunity to communicate concerns through a voice that is supported by the lawful process of the Railway Labor Act. This process also provides a stability and cost certainty that will be beneficial to our company as we grow into the future."

JetBlue's management team is not thrilled at the prospect of a pilots' union. An article on business news website quoted a JetBlue spokesman who said JetBlue believes "a direct relationship with the company is in our pilots' best interest."

JetBlue Pilots Association leaders said that they provided advance notice of the intent to file the petition to both CEO David Barger and the JetBlue Board of Directors, indicating the type of relationship that exists today and confirming the type of direction that should be expected in the future.

"Our desire to seek formal recognition underscores our need to have a relationship based not only on the benevolence of a leadership team that could transition at any time, but on a relationship where there exists a means to resolve our private discourses under the support of legal process," Capt. Sorbie said.

The NMB soon will begin the steps toward a request for an election and representation authorization. JetBlue Pilots Association leaders are proposing an independent organization and are not seeking association with any third party national union.

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