JetBlue IFC Negotiations Take Off

From twu.org

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.”