The union representing Frontier Airlines pilots filed a lawsuit Wednesday accusing company leaders of negotiating a new contract in bad faith, and it asked a judge to require the Denver company to negotiate raises for its 1,200 pilots and to stop undermining the bargaining process that is laid out in federal law.
This development is the latest in a nearly two-years-long contract negotiation between the airline that was purchased in late 2013 by Phoenix private-equity firm Indigo Partners LLC and its pilots, who say they make 40 percent less than the industry average. It comes three months after the pilots asked the National Mediation Board to release them from talks and let them begin to prepare for a strike, and two weeks after the Air Line Pilots Association Intl. unveiled a mobile strike center meant to raise public awareness of the possibility of a work stoppage.
Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, the lawsuit claims in three counts that Frontier has failed to comply with an arbitrator’s ruling from September that obligated it to bargain in good faith, that management has taken numerous steps to frustrate completion of a collective bargaining agreement and that the company is retaliating against its pilots.
In recent months, Frontier leaders canceled 140 pilots’ scheduled August vacations, threatened pilots with discipline for failing to fly more hours and prevented the union from representing probationary pilots at disciplinary hearings, the lawsuit claims. And the company has undermined the bargaining process by making regressive proposals, delaying making its proposals and reneging on prior agreements, according to the suit.
“Frontier is, at best, going through the motions and pretending to negotiate,” said Capt. Tracy Smith, head of the ALPA’s Frontier Pilots groups, in a release. “The company has no intention of reaching a fair agreement with ALPA or our pilots.”