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AFA-CWA Adds Full Support to jetBlue-Spirit Airlines Merger After Securing Immediate Improvements and Protections Post-Merger
Washington, D.C. (February 21, 2023) — The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA), representing 5,600 Spirit Attendants, reached a tentative agreement with Spirit Airlines to increase wages by 10-27 percent immediately, continue raises locked in for the next two years, and other immediate improvements for Flight Attendant schedules and quality of life. The directly elected Flight Attendant AFA-CWA leaders at Spirit voted to approve the tentative agreement for membership ratification and support merger of jetBlue-Spirit.
“Flight Attendants have flown Spirit to new heights over the last three years as we navigated the pandemic and a growing airline,” said Jason Kachenmeister, AFA Spirit President. “As we head into the merger, the agreement will bring increased pay and establish a clear path to continue raising the bar following the merger.”
Before they are made public, full details of the agreement are being compiled for distribution to Spirit Flight Attendants in the coming week. The tentative agreement is subject to membership ratification.
“After securing improvements and protections for Spirit Flight Attendants in recent days, we are excited to announce our strong support for the jetBlue-Spirit merger,” Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, representing 50,000 Flight Attendants at 19 airlines. “Our union has experience with eight mergers in the past ten years. We agree with skeptics that consolidation has accrued extraordinary power to a few airlines. However, this merger will help to correct that. The jetBlue-Spirit merger adds competition to the airline industry that creates more power for workers, along with choice and comfort that benefits consumers. We urge regulators to work diligently to ensure the financial merger closing occurs in the near term so that Flight Attendants, other workers, and consumers can access the benefits of the merger as soon as possible.”
AFA-CWA strongly supports the jetBlue-Spirit merger for these reasons:
Immediate Raises Now: We have reached a tentative agreement with Spirit to, upon ratification, increase wages by 10-27 percent immediately, continued raises locked in for the next two years, and other immediate improvements for Flight Attendant schedules. This was a significant investment in workers and showing of good faith from an airline that has yet to return to profitability in the wake of the pandemic.
No Furloughs or Displacements, Added Job Security: We have a written commitment from jetBlue that becomes effective post-merger and includes no-furlough protections, a commitment to seniority integration under the law that protects the seniority each Flight Attendant has accrued at their respective carries, no displacements, and a "second bite at the apple" through an expedited process for joint contract negotiations ensuring that Flight Attendants further improve wages and working conditions by sharing in the value created by the merger.
Added Competition: The jetBlue-Spirit merger will add competition to the current dominance of the four airlines controlling 81 percent of the entire market and increase access to Flight Attendant jobs that provide pay, benefits, and working conditions among the best in the industry.
No Two-Tiered Employment: jetBlue does not currently utilize the regional business model, where Flight Attendants are paid on average 45% less, and has no plans to introduce it with the merged carrier. This is significant as it adds access to good aviation jobs and sets a new model that will pressure other airlines to compete with jobs set to the highest standards.
Far Better Working Conditions: The jetBlue-Spirit merger will result in reconfiguration of all Spirit aircraft from 28” seat pitch minimum (worst in the industry) to 32” seat pitch minimum (best in the industry), creating a better cabin environment for Flight Attendants and passengers alike. Cramped conditions often contribute to passenger anger and far too frequent abuse of frontline workers.
The Association of Flight Attendants is the Flight Attendant union. Focused 100 percent on Flight Attendant issues, AFA has been the leader in advancing the Flight Attendant profession for over 75 years. Serving as the voice for Flight Attendants in the workplace, in the aviation industry, in the media and on Capitol Hill, AFA has transformed the Flight Attendant profession by raising wages, benefits and working conditions. Nearly 50,000 Flight Attendants come together to form AFA, part of the 700,000-member strong Communications Workers of America (CWA), AFL-CIO. Visit us at www.afacwa.org.
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