Portland News

JetBlue Airways becomes latest major airline to push for unionization

Major airline JetBlue could join the wave of unionization
Major airline JetBlue could join the wave of unionization

Image source: FL 360 Aero

JetBlue Airways is the latest company to receive pressure for a union vote as a major airline union has won its workers’ support.

The announcement

Last Friday, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers announced that it would submit a request for JetBlue ground workers to receive a union vote.

In the latest move to organize workers, the main airline union said it had the support of 3,000 fleet service workers.

The request will be submitted to the National Arbitration Committee to involve work groups such as baggage handlers and other ground operations personnel.

What would that mean?

A favorable vote could lead to JetBlue becoming the third-largest trade union working group.

Meanwhile, the pilots and flight attendants of the New York airline are already members of the union.

The push for union voting comes at a time when waves of union voting are sweeping large established companies like Amazon and Starbucks.

The vote could also take place while the company is in the process of acquiring Spirit Airlines.

According to annual business records, over 80% of Spirit Airlines’ employees are unionized, compared to JetBlue’s 46%.

Read also: Possible rail strike leads to Washington meeting with railroad union officials

Labor contract

Richard Johnsen, general vice president of IAM’s air transportation area, spoke to CNBC and assured them a more regular schedule is one of the pillars of a potential employment contract for the fleet service employees.

“They really have never had that opportunity to have a say in their future,” he revealed.

“Now might be the most critical time.”

Impact of the pandemic

Staffing schedules were rising early at the start of the pandemic in 2020.

However, things would change as the demand for travel increased and COVID cases started to decline.

Tensions arose with airline unions in the United States during the trial.

Statement from JetBlue

In light of the possible union vote, the New York-based airline issued a statement stating:

“JetBlue values its relationship with all of our crewmembers, including our ground operations crewmembers who, for the last two years, helped manage the unprecedented challenges posed by the pandemic.”

“We firmly believe that the direct relationship we have with our ground operations crewmembers has worked, and will continue to work, and that third-party representation and the costs to our crewmembers that come with it are not in their best interests.”

Read also: Teamster could stir a union strike against UPS

Airlines and unions

Most, if not all, workers on major airlines are now largely represented by unions.

However, some airlines, like JetBlue, have fewer than their competitors.

Workers at Delta Air Lines, the largest airline in the United States, are largely unorganized.

However, the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, the nation’s largest flight attendant union, is working to change that.

The association is currently in the midst of a labor campaign at Delta Air Lines that began in 2019.

The longevity of union action can be attributed to the fact that flight attendants have refused unionization in the past.

Reference:

JetBlue ground operation workers seek union representation

Opinions expressed by Portland News contributors are their own.