More than 400 Inflight Crewmembers participated in the Telephone Town Hall featuring International TWU President John Samuelsen on Friday, May 17.
After Samuelsen and TWU Administrative Vice President Mike Mayes gave introductory remarks, Samuelsen answered questions for about 30 minutes on topics that included contract negotiations, toxic fume events, job security, and communications.
One caller, Michael from Boston, asked if the International could provide more communication and transparency about how the local is being set up.
“The answer is, ‘yes,’ ” Samuelsen said. “I’m a big proponent of constantly working on ways to communicate with members that are creative, innovative, transparent and democratic. There are some issues that IFCs have reached out directly to me about. I’m working on those issues, and hopefully, you will be seeing some positive changes.”
He cited The B6 Flyer as a step towards improved communications. The first newsletter was blasted out to IFCs via email and posted on the website – b6.twu.org – on May 1. (This is the second edition.)
Of course, many IFCs who participated in the Town Hall wanted an update on contract talks with JetBlue.
Negotiators have reached tentative agreement on 17 out of approximately 35 articles, or items, including the Language of Destination Program.
“We’re halfway there,” Samuelsen said. “The tenor of negotiations is fairly cordial and progress has been made.”
But it appears JetBlue is slowing things down a little, Samuelsen said.
“At a certain point and time, when progress fails to be made, in conjunction with the elected bargaining committee and input from our IFCs, we’re going to have to step up our game against JetBlue, and the employer fully understands that,” Samuelsen said. “If they continue dragging their heels, we’re going to have to make decisions about how to continue making progress… we will change methods.”
Negotiators are not releasing details on the agreed-upon items, or articles, because they are not binding, or fixed, until the entire contract is ratified, Samuelsen said. They can still be changed. The union’s priorities, however, were established after outreach to IFCs prior to negotiations, he said.
One participant asked about the potential impact on seniority if JetBlue is sold or merged with another airline. Seniority will be protected, Samuelsen said. Such protection is a compelling reason to join a union and secure a contract, Samuelsen said.
TWU is organizing Airport Operations and Technical Operations at Jet Blue, Samuelsen said.
“The goal is to continue to build a future, stand-alone local for IFCs, win a fair and reasonable contract, and then continue to expand our TWU footprint by organizing every craft and class we can with the employer,” Samuelsen said. “It would be a beautiful thing if TWU represented every craft and class that is organizable with this employer. That would give us tremendous strength (at the bargaining table and at work).”
Answering another question, Samuelsen said the jump seat rules are not a subject at the bargaining table. That’s because the Reciprocal Cabin Seat Agreement is really an arrangement between airlines, not between the union and JetBlue.
If you would like to listen to the recorded call please go to b6.twu.org and stay tuned for future Town Halls.