As Contract Negotiations Slow, JetBlue Pilots Are Bolstered with $5 Million Union Grant


JetBlue Airways pilots, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), were approved for a $5 million grant from ALPA’s Major Contingency Fund after this week’s round of contract negotiations with management resulted in insufficient progress to yield an agreement acceptable to the pilot group. In order to avoid possible labor strife, management must come to the bargaining table with proposals that appropriately value its pilots with contractual compensation improvements. This grant creates a “war chest” that can be used for events, informational picketing, advertising, and other prominent media activities to highlight the need for a new pilot contract.

“JetBlue pilots have earned these improvements—and it’s time that the Company delivers. We are putting management on notice that these negotiations—and our careers—won’t be put on hold while JetBlue navigates a merger,” commented Capt. Chris Kenney, chair of the JetBlue unit of ALPA. “We also find it debatable whether it’s even possible for JetBlue to complete its merger without having a fairly compensated pilot group onboard.”

The pilots have been negotiating for short-term extension that is narrowly focused on a few economic improvements to bring their contract in line with the rising market for pilots at other airlines—before JetBlue engages in potentially lengthy merger discussions. An extension would spare management the need for full contract negotiations and allow them to focus on the merger. The pilots’ current four-year contract became amendable on August 1, 2022. The pilots are driving for negotiations to conclude before the end of 2022, with the last negotiating session scheduled for December 13–14.

“There is no good reason that we can’t come to an agreement with our management team before the year is out,” continued Kenney. “However, this grant will make it easier for us to make it abundantly clear that the pilot contract must come before the merger. No Delay. Contract Now.”

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