100 percent of eligible pilots approved the strike option in a recent vote
Air Line Pilots Association President Tim Canoll marches with more than 250 Frontier Airlines pilots picketing their corporate headquarters April 19, 2017. The pilots represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, are protesting the Denver-based airline’s management refusal to engage in good-faith bargaining with their union.
Frontier Airlines pilots are ready to strike if contract talks with the Denver-based carrier fall apart.
One hundred percent of eligible pilots recently voted in favor of walking off Frontier jets if the airline and pilots can’t reach a new collective bargaining agreement, according to the Air Line Pilots Association union.
The two sides began negotiations in March 2016, the union said. A neutral mediator has been involved since October. Tensions were heightened last week when an arbiter in a different negotiation between the two sides ruled the airline was acting in bad faith when it failed to deliver on a 2011 promise to boost pilot pay once preset profit margins were reached. The strike vote was announced days later.
“This vote shows the deep anger our pilots feel towards the direction set by our management,” Capt. Tracy Smith, chairman the Air Line Pilots Association’s Frontier unit, said in a news release. “We’re the lowest-paid Airbus pilots in North America, but that pitiful status is definitely going to change.”
Frontier doesn’t intend to let its pilots walk off the job, official say.
“Negotiations with our pilots continue under the guidance of the National Mediation Board,” Frontier spokesman Richard Oliver said in an email. “A strike will not happen as long as these negotiations are in progress. Frontier remains committed to reaching an agreement that is fair for both our pilots and the company.”
The board must decide mediation efforts between the two parties are unproductive and offer to arbitrate the dispute before a strike could take place. If one or both sides were to decline arbitration at that point, either would then be free to “exercise self-help,” according to ALPA. That could mean a strike or a labor lockout by the airline.
The Air Line Pilots Association represents all of the more than 1,150 pilots that work for Frontier, according to Capt. Alan Christie who handles public relations on behalf of Frontier’s pilots. Statistics presented by Frontier pilots on the website frontierpilotfacts.com show that first-year salaries for first officers at Frontier is among the lowest in the country at $39,110, lagging behind even lesser known fee-for-departure carriers like GoJet and SkyWest.
Christie argued that higher insurance premiums than most airlines and lower retirement contributions make Frontier less attractive to new pilots, something that could hurt the airline’s growth strategy. Christie said that under the terms of a 2011 deal aimed at saving the airline from bankruptcy, Frontier pilots gave up an estimated $53 million in pay and benefits and it is time for the airline to reward them.
“We have earned a new contact and this strike vote shows that we are unified and committed to getting the deal that we earned,” he said.