JetBlue InFlight Crewmembers (IFC) have been negotiating their first-ever Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) since August – and the negotiating team said things at the bargaining table have been mostly blue skies. The TWU International Communications Department caught up with members of the JetBlue IFC negotiation team during a session in late January in Washington, DC.

In only six months, tentative agreements have been reached on 15 items, including a grievance procedure article.

TWU International Air Division Director Mike Mayes is leading the negotiations and TWU International John Samuelsen has met with the team in both New York City and Washington, DC.

Stacy Bassford, based out of JFK International Airport in New York, noted that the grievance procedure is “the spine, it holds everything up. The most important issue that came up during organizing was at-will status. Those procedures to protect our crew members from unjust termination – we are really excited about that.”

Other items that Tentative agreements were reached on include:

  • Probation
  • Non-discrimination
  • Commuter policy
  • Moving expenses
  • Health and safety
  • Leaves of absence
  • Medical Examination
  • Furlough and Recall

Other items still on the table include:

  • Paid Time Off (PTO)
  • Attendance
  • Scheduling, Bidding, and Trip Trades
  • Expenses

Economic issues are not being discussed at this time.

“It’s not the easiest stuff, we took a pretty deep dive,” said Brendan Moriarty, who is based out of Long Beach Airport in California.

The Road to Representation
The road to TWU representation wasn’t easy for JetBlue IFCs. Since it’s inception in 2000, the airline had absolutely no union representation for Flight Attendants or InFlight Crewmembers – until now. Organizing efforts have been going on since 2013.

“It took a long time to organize JetBlue,” noted Sonia Payne, who is based out of Boston Logan Airport. “I thought I knew a lot, but I didn’t really know half as much.”

“Lots of work was put into it,” added Ernesto Gomez, based out of Orlando International Airport in Florida.

Dee Lozito-Klimar, who is based out of Fort Lauderdale International Airport in Florida, explained, “We were respectful of current policies. Issues we had didn’t come out of nowhere. We weren’t trying to totally change the culture at JetBlue, but instead look at other TWU contracts, more industry-wide, standard contracts, that we could be on par with.”

All agreed that while the experience may be a “massive responsibility” it’s extremely rewarding.

“It’s a tremendous honor to be elected by our co-workers…It’s humbling and eye opening,” Moriarty said. “There have been a number of learning experiences along the way, but we feel enheartened by the support and enthusiasm. Doing this is fulfilling and easier when you have that tremendous kind of support. I’m so proud to be part of this team.”

Bassford added, “I’m excited and proud. We didn’t even know exactly what we were jumping into until we were in it. I met a lot of people I otherwise wouldn’t have met.”

Secrets to Success
The negotiating team shared advice for others thinking about organizing.

“For people who may not think your company needs a union: once you understand what a union does for your job and for you, you will have a different outlook,” said Payne. “The power of a union isn’t job security, it’s a happy work environment.”

“We are stronger in our resolve to do the right thing to get a contract,” Lozito-Klimar added.

“There will be frustrations, frustrations, setbacks and stumbles, but you believe in the process. Believe in organizing, get involved. The more involved the stronger your effort will be,” Moriarty said. “Talk to your people, your fellow colleagues respect you and your opinions.”

“The power of the people is more powerful than the people in power,” Gomez noted. “Corporations rent people. They don’t see souls, they see numbers.”

“Nothing happens when you’re sitting on the sidelines waiting,” Bassford said, noting that she began her career at JetBlue. “This is where I plan to retire, so I want it to grow and be successful and I will have the job security to do that.”


Transport Workers Union President John Samuelsen says he welcomes JetBlue’s flight attendants to the union, he is eager to negotiate a contract for them and he looks forward to organizing the carrier’s mechanics and passenger service agents.

On Tuesday, TWU won an National Mediation Board election to become the representative of the carrier’s 5,000 flight attendants. The count showed 2,661 in favor and 1,387 opposed. JetBlue has about 5,000 flight attendants. Of 4,701 eligible voters, 4,048 cast ballots.

TWU “has the reputation that we will take on nasty bosses,” Samuelsen said in an interview. “If you have the audacity to stand up and fight, workers are drawn to that.”

Samuelsen acknowledged that the organizing campaign seemed to benefit from high visibility in New York, where he previously led TWU Local 100, which represents subway workers and bus drivers. The campaign received a public endorsement from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo — Samuelsen is a strong backer of Cuomo, who is seeking re-election — and from other state and city officials.

JetBlue has about 2,000 flight attendants based in New York. It also has large flight attendant bases in Boston and Fort Lauderdale.

In opposing the unionization effort, Queens-based JetBlue argued that it has a direct relationship with its employees and doesn’t need a union as a middle-man.

“Our crew members remain at the heart of the JetBlue experience and we value all they do to provide that experience to our customers,” the carrier said in a post-election prepared statement. “As we move forward, we will work to come together around our mission to inspire humanity that has set JetBlue apart from other airlines since day one.”

Samuelsen said the carrier “continues to identify the union as a third-party intervenor. News flash: they are one and the same, the workforce and the union.”

He promised an “aggressive public campaign” if the carrier hesitates to bargain, but so far there has been no indication of reluctance, he noted.

Meanwhile, TWU is attempting to organize JetBlue’s passenger service agents and mechanics — the carrier has about 2,500 agents and about 750 mechanics– while the International Association of Machinists is seeking to organize JetBlue’s 2,500 fleet service workers.

To call for an election, a union needs to collect signatures from 50% plus one of the members of a bargaining unit.

The efforts are making JetBlue look more like most other large airlines: Airlines comprise one of the most heavily unionized U.S. industries.

JetBlue began flying in 2000 and managed to avoid having labor unions on the property until 2014, when the Air Line Pilots Association organized its pilots.

from CNBC

JetBlue’s roughly 5,000 flight attendants have voted to unionize, the New York-based airline said on Tuesday.

“While we respect the outcome of the election, we are disappointed in this result because we believe the direct relationship is superior to third-party representation,” JetBlue said in a statement. The airline’s pilots have already unionized and the flight attendants’ vote means they will soon start negotiating with the carrier a contract that could include pay standards and job protection.

Most U.S. airlines’ crews are unionized and JetBlue had been a non-union airline until its pilots voted to unionize in 2014. Delta Air Lines’ flight attendants are not unionized, a rarity in the industry.

The flight attendants voted 2,661 to 1,387 to join the Transport Workers Union, the labor group said.

“The crewmembers want and deserve job security, representation and due process in disciplinary cases, improved wages and benefits, and a seat at the table in case of possible merger or acquisition,” said TWU.

“As we move forward, we will work to come together around our mission to inspire humanity that has set JetBlue apart from other airlines since day one,” JetBlue said.

from NY Daily News

The push to unionize nearly 5,000 JetBlue flight attendants took off Tuesday.

Flight attendants voted 2,661 to 1,387 in favor of joining the Transport Workers Union, according to the National Mediation Board, which oversaw the electronic balloting.

The union headed by John Samuelsen pressed hard to organize the airline staffers.

The no-frills airline opposed the idea.

“TWU is an opportunistic and negative third party,” flyers to staff from the airline said.

JetBlue flight attendants voted to unionize on Tuesday.
JetBlue flight attendants voted to unionize on Tuesday. (Courtesy of TWU)

But workers rejected that argument.

Before the vote, some pointed out that they hoped the union would negotiate a set disciplinary process that would block bosses from punishing flight attendants without proof or reason.

JetBlue angered staffers after the airline began to offer flyers $25 for turning in flight attendants who used their cell phones during a flight or violated another company regulation.

In total, the TWU represents more than 140,000 workers in the airline, railroad, mass transit, utilities and service industries throughout the country.

American Airlines pilots joined TWU workers from JFK and LaGuardia airports during a protest in Manhattan in October 2017.
American Airlines pilots joined TWU workers from JFK and LaGuardia airports during a protest in Manhattan in October 2017. (Gregg Vigliotti/For New York Daily News)

Samuelsen hailed the winning vote.

“This historic victory is yet another example of the tide turning in America as workers collectively fight back to defend their livelihoods,” he said in a statement. “The United States trade union movement is the greatest vehicle for the economic security of working families that this country has ever seen, and more Americans are recognizing this every day.”

The union hopes “to immediately commence contract bargaining with JetBlue,” he added. “It is our sincerest wish that the company comes to the table and bargains a fair and just contract with the workers they employ. But if JetBlue refuses to bargain in good faith, this union is prepared to engage in a fightback campaign that will continue until a contract is secured and the Inflight Crewmembers are protected.”

from Bloomberg

JetBlue Airways Corp. flight attendants voted to join the Transport Workers Union, becoming only the second employee group represented by organized labor at the New York-based carrier.

Flight attendants voted 2,661 to 1,387 in favor of joining the TWU, the union said in an emailed statement Tuesday. Two earlier attempts to organize the group failed, although those efforts didn’t get to a vote. JetBlue aviatorsjoined the Air Line Pilots Association in 2014 and still are negotiating their initial contract.

Adding another collective-bargaining unit raises the prospect of higher costs at JetBlue as it negotiates pay rates and new, less flexible work rules for its 4,800 flight attendants. The carrier for years has touted the value of its “direct relationship” with employees over having to work through unions.

The flight attendants sought representation, in part, to improve wages and increase job protection — particularly in the event of any mergers involving JetBlue — and to have a voice in lobbying policy makers on issues affecting the industry.

JetBlue was little changed at $19.76 at 2:48 p.m. in New York.

The biggest U.S. airlines typically have at least four unions, representing pilots, flight attendants, mechanics and ramp workers.

“We believe that working together, not through a third party, results in faster, better outcomes for our crew members,” JetBlue said in a statement before the vote. “We are a small player in an industry dominated by four large carriers, and want everyone at JetBlue united on fighting the competition, not each other.”