The Spirit Airlines pilots, as represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), have requested the services of the National Mediation Board (NMB) to facilitate negotiations for an amended collective bargaining agreement.
The pilots have been in negotiations with Spirit Airlines management for 18 months and are 11 months past the amendable date of their contract. Despite regular negotiating sessions, the two parties remain divided as the pilots continue to press for an industry-standard contract.
“Direct negotiations have clearly stalled with Spirit management unwilling to come to the bargaining table with an economic proposal. Therefore, we feel that the only way we can move forward in our negotiations is to bring a third-party mediator into the room,” said Capt. Stuart Morrison, chairman of the Spirit unit of ALPA and a member of the Spirit Negotiating Committee. “We simply cannot waste any more time while our pay rates and retirement continue to lag significantly behind those of our peers. Each day without a contract is one more day that our pilots are not being fairly and equitably compensated by this company.”
Spirit pilots opened negotiations in February 2015, six months before their five-year contract was amendable, with a focused list of requested improvements and the expectation that they would be able to reach an agreement prior to the amendable date in August 2015. However, the differences at the table continued well past August. The pilots and management remain divided on economics, despite the company leading the industry in profits. In the first quarter of 2016, Spirit Airlines reported a net profit of $72.3 million.
“Despite our CEO’s claim that Spirit is in the ‘low tier’ of airlines, our profits and routes firmly place us with the other major players in the industry,” continued Capt. Morrison. “Although Spirit prides itself on being a discount airline, our pilots are not available at a discount rate. We have every expectation that the NMB will help us achieve a fair contract that will include industry-standard pay rates.”
Founded in 1931, ALPA is the largest airline pilot union in the world and represents over 53,000 pilots at 31 U.S. and Canadian airlines.