Monday, March 16, 2009

Spirit Airlines pilots win arbitration decision on scheduling

Spirit AirlinesAn arbitration decision was issued recently in regard to a dispute between Spirit Airlines and its pilots over alleged contract violations. The System Board of Adjustment ruled in favor of the pilots, who are represented by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA).

The decision orders Spirit's management to cease committing violations related to a contract provision commonly known to Spirit pilots as the 5/4 Rule, which allows commuting pilots to spend more time with their families. According to ALPA, this provision was originally negotiated based on priorities set by the pilots.

ALPA had alleged that Spirit Airlines was committing contract violations by shortchanging the number of days off that pilots receive after a scheduled sequence of trips. In accordance with ALPA’s collective bargaining agreement, pilots are entitled to receive up to five days off (but no less than four) after the conclusion of a sequence of trips with no intervening days off.

“The company decided it wouldn’t abide by this agreement in August,” commented ALPA Spirit MEC chairman Capt. Sean Creed. “Since then, we have been working to get back what is ours. After over two-and-a-half years of negotiations and contract violation after contract violation, this win means a lot to this group. It also sends a clear message to our management: we will fight for our contract, and we will win!”

Here's the link to the System Board of Adjustment decision - 39-page 'pdf' file

Spirit Airlines and its pilots have been battling on several fronts for a considerable period of time (see list of related articles below). In early September of 2008, the pilots sued Spirit Airlines, claiming multiple violations of the Railway Labor Act by the carrier's management.