On March 28, Ed Baklor, Head of JetBlue Customer Care and Programs, issued a statement indicating the operational problems at JetBlue are being caused by flight attendants refusing to accept assignments. This could not be further from the truth.
“It’s time for JetBlue to stop playing the blame game with their flight attendants,” said Gary Peterson, TWU International Vice President and Air Division Director. “Our flight attendants showed up and kept this airline flying during the pandemic. Now it’s time for management to show up for them.”
“Flight attendants are not the cause of these problems. They are the reason customers come back to JetBlue, “said TWU International President John Samuelsen. “The TWU is ready to meet on these issues immediately. It is time for JetBlue to take responsibility for poor management decisions and to come to the table to negotiate real solutions that will address the real problems.”
JetBlue has a history of blaming its flight attendants for issues largely caused by poor decisions by management. For example, last summer Baklor made arbitrary changes to the Company’s attendance policy, which doubled the discipline for flight attendants while ignoring the realities of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, resulting in flight attendant terminations.
In January, he made another change to the attendance policy that nearly doubled the number of “Critical Coverage” days around holidays for flight attendants who call in sick. Increasing penalties only increases terminations, while driving down already low morale.
In addition, although flight attendants have been on the front lines during this pandemic, many feel that this Company has engaged in “bait and switch” tactics that have flight attendants picking up one assignment only to be rescheduled or extended to a much less desirable workday. This stops flight attendants from picking up the extra flying that JetBlue claims it needs.
Many flight attendants have also cited the threat of passenger misconduct as a reason for not picking up extra flying at this time. This is a real threat that flight attendants are facing across the industry, and JetBlue should be standing with flight attendants to improve these conditions. One flight attendant, who asked not to be identified due to fear of reprisal by the Company, said, “I’ve never seen like this before – it is constant turmoil every time I go to work.”
Also, JetBlue has also devoted much needed resources into their new transatlantic flying, including a recent pay raise agreed to by the Union for transatlantic flights. “While we believe that the transatlantic flight attendants deserve a pay raise, JetBlue has to take care of its business at home also,” said TWU International Vice President Thom McDaniel.
The TWU represents more than 155,000 members across the airline, railroad, transit, universities, utilities and service sectors