March 17, 2009
Spirit Airlines Pilots Score Major Arbitration
Decision Enforces Work Rule and Quality-of-Life Contract Provisions
Miramar, Fla.—Spirit Airlines pilots, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), today hailed an arbitration panel decision that orders Spirit management to abide by the current collective bargaining agreement.
The ruling mandates that Spirit management allow pilots up to five days off (but no fewer than four days) between scheduled trips, which may last up to six days. These days off were negotiated into the contract to give pilots hard-earned rest and time to spend with their families between what are often long absences from home.
In August, the company scheduled pilots for consecutive trips with as few as two days rest, in direct conflict with the contract’s days-off provision. Due to continuous base closures and changes, many pilots do not live near Spirit Airlines’ Detroit or Ft. Lauderdale bases and are forced to commute. As a result, the extended days-off period played a critical role in pilots’ quality of life.
“Quality of life is a priority for me and this pilot group,” said Capt. Sean Creed, chairman of the Spirit pilots’ chapter of ALPA, who has lived in Indiana for the past eight years, yet has had his base changed six times. “Since last August, I’ve been coming home from a six-day trip just in time for dinner, and I’ll be on a plane back to Fort Lauderdale the next morning. The arbitrators didn’t just give me back my days off; they gave me back my family.”
This decision by an arbitration panel comes as contract negotiations have reached a standstill. After two-and-a-half years, the pilot group is no closer to a new contract as management continues to demand unheard-of economic and quality-of-life concessions. Management has also chosen to disregard key provisions of the existing contract and has forced the pilots to take unpaid hours to fight for contract compliance. In addition, the company has been slow to set up arbitration dates or provide enough dates to deal with the huge backlog of interpretive disputes that have accumulated since Spirit began its offensive against the contract last summer.
“This is a major victory for this pilot group,” continued Capt. Creed. “We have not only won the day, we’ve sent a clear message to this management: We will fight for our contract and our airline—and we will win.”
Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilot union and represents 52,250 pilots at 35 airlines in the U.S. and Canada, including more than 500 pilots at Spirit Airlines. Visit the ALPA website at http://www.alpa.org.
# # #
Captain Sean Creed—(765) 338-6824
Arthur Luby—(571) 236-3523
Jen Lofquist—(703) 481-4459