Frontier’s pilots voted today to authorize their elected union representatives to lawfully walk off the job if contract talks do not result in a new collective bargaining agreement. An overwhelming 100 percent of the pilots eligible to vote did so in favor of the strike ballot.
“This vote shows the deep anger our pilots feel towards the direction set by our management,” said Capt. Tracy Smith, chairman of the ALPA unit at Frontier Airlines.
“We’re the lowest-paid Airbus pilots in North America, but that pitiful status is definitely going to change.”
In order to go on strike, the National Mediation Board (NMB) must first decide that additional mediation efforts would not be productive and extend an offer to arbitrate the dispute. If either side declines arbitration, the parties enter a “cooling off” period and are free to exercise self-help—a strike by the pilots or a lockout by the company—30 days later.
The pilots’ contract became amendable in March 2017. The union and the company began contract talks in March 2016 and have been working with an NMB mediator since October 2016.
Earlier this month, a neutral arbitrator found Frontier guilty of bad-faith bargaining for reneging on a promise to increase pilot pay if Frontier met prescribed profit margins. Even though Frontier’s margins overwhelmingly exceeded the minimums set to trigger negotiations, management has repeatedly refused to consider any pilot pay increase. The company’s decision to reward its private shareholders and management with $273 million in dividends and bonuses in 2016 and 2017, the same period in which pilot increases became due, further exposed its willingness to exploit the pilot group to its advantage.
“Their hypocrisy is plain for all to see,” Smith said.
“Since 2015, Frontier has been one of America’s most profitable airlines. Our owners have enriched themselves and ignored us completely while claiming they can’t afford to pay us what our peers are earning. Those same owners were responsible for the last major pilot strike at their previous airline back in 2010, and unfortunately, they appear to be pushing us down that same path.”
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