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Can We Go Back to the Table?—Sonya Payne, TWU/JetBlue IFC NT Member, BOS/Mint

I just completed our most recent Tele-Town Hall with the rest of your TWU/JetBlue IFC Negotiating Team (NT), and one of the questions we received is one we have heard on every call:

“If we vote no for the Contract, can’t we just go back to the table and get more?”

The answer to that question is “Yes” and “No.”

Yes, under the Railway Labor Act, the Union and the Company would return to the table to negotiate. However, we have no guarantee that we would get more, and we expect just the opposite. The reality is that we would be going back to the table under much worse conditions than we have seen in the last two years, and experts say the airline business will not improve any time soon. Economists, CEOs, and even airline manufacturers have predicted that they don’t expect any kind of meaningful recovery for airlines for the next two to eight years. In addition, they will be carrying additional debt, and many businesses have learned how to do business without traveling, which will continue to slow the recovery under this “new normal.”

The TWU hired Dan Akins, a renowned airline economist who works with all other aviation unions to evaluate the current industry conditions and benefits of our Tentative Agreement. Mr. Akins has prepared this presentation based on the current state of the industry and third-party predictions for recovery. We are providing this for our IFCs because we can’t make important decisions without accurate information.

Even in these uncertain times, we made considerable gains in this Tentative Agreement that will provide immediate protection and benefits for our IFCs including, but not limited to:

  • Grievance and Arbitration Procedures
  • Furlough/Recall Rights and Benefits
  • Merger, Acquisition, and Bankruptcy Rights
  • Guaranteed Wage Increases
  • Guaranteed Per Diem Increases
  • PTO/VPTO Increases
  • Protection from drastic Company Proposals

These legal and enforceable guarantees protect every one of our IFCs. If we go back to the table, they could all be lost, or we could still be negotiating for years—even through the time this TA would become amendable. During negotiations for a first contract, JetBlue can change our benefits and work rules at any time. Going back to the table in these uncertain times would be a risk, and we would miss out on the years of protection this contract offers.

Thank you for the trust you have put in me, and I share those sentiments from the rest of your NT. If you have any questions at all, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.