This week, your TWU/IFC Negotiating Team (NT) held a virtual meeting with JetBlue Management for a four-day negotiating session. The company responded to the comprehensive economic proposal that the Union presented on June 16. While we were able to reach a Tentative Agreement on Reduced Flying and R&R, the Union and Company are very far apart on several other economic items. Your Union presented a reasonable counterproposal, and we are awaiting Management’s response at our next scheduled session, August 3–7. Your NT is ready and willing to negotiate at any time, for as long as possible, in order to reach a fair contract for JetBlue IFCs, and we will provide you with an update at the end of our session next week.
We understand that many IFCs have been subject to constant schedule adjustments and modifications that appear to violate the current work rules and past practice and negate the seniority of the bidding process. The responses that IFCs have received when questioning these changes have been inconsistent and creative. Management even created a new term—“retiming”—that does not appear anywhere in your current work rules. While we understand that these are difficult times, and we are willing to help, it is not too much to ask for Management to follow their own rules. More disappointingly, these changes were not even announced or published, except for a brief mention in an update with very few details. Unfortunately, without a contract, we do not have a formal way to resolve these violations, but please continue to be diligent in questioning these inconsistencies and keeping your Union in the loop. We will continue to try to hold Management accountable and, at the very least, keep exposing these practices.
As we have discussed in previous communications, for several months, IFCs have reported that JetBlue has been under-reporting IFC wages to state unemployment offices by providing net wages as opposed to gross wages. After several inquiries, Management has now confirmed that their third-party vendor has, in fact, been under-reporting IFC wages. This has resulted in a significant loss of benefits. Management informed us that they are currently working on a resolution for the problem prioritizing the issues in New York, Massachusetts, and Florida, since that is where most IFCs have filed claims. We know this issue has resulted in significant hardship for our IFCs, who took leaves to help JetBlue at the company’s request and planned on utilizing that income to survive financially. We have notified JetBlue that any resolution to this ongoing issue must include the repayment of the benefits that have been denied in the past, as well as accurate reporting going forward.
We have also been working diligently on issues regarding masks:
- Southwest and Delta have changed their positions on passenger mask requirements, and neither carrier will allow passengers to fly if they claim they can’t wear a mask due to a “medical condition.” This decision has been received positively. We have requested that JetBlue adopt the same policy to protect passengers and eliminate IFCs from being the middleman on enforcement. At this time, they have not agreed to do so, however we will continue to fight for this change.
- We have received several concerns about inconsistent mask usage by JetBlue Crewmembers in JBU and while on duty. If you encounter any situation where fellow Crewmembers are not using masks according to Company policy, please ask them to comply. If they refuse, please complete a Safety Action Report and an IIR, and let us know what the response is. This is not about reporting anyone; this is about maintaining a safe work space for every Crewmember.
- The Company has begun distributing a new style of masks for IFCs, which has raised additional concerns from your workgroup. Each IFC will receive two masks with five filters and will be required to wear either the company issued mask or the surgical masks that are currently being distributed. We know that in the months since face coverings for IFCs have been mandatory, IFCs have provided their own masks—it is very obvious that one size does not fit all. IFCs that have unique issues have found masks that they can work in and that meet their comfort level within CDC guidelines. While some IFCs may like the new masks, many do not, and some have safety concerns over the design and quality of the new masks. The TWU has requested that Management work with your TWU/JetBlue IFC Health and Safety Committee to develop criteria for masks while working, but Management has not agreed to the request. In the meantime, Management has stated that they are rolling out a 60-day test on the new mask for all IFCs. During this test, please submit your feedback on the new mask to JetBlue Leadership.
In closing, the Transport Workers Union of America (TWU) Government Affairs office is working hard in Washington, DC with other airline unions to pass a clean extension of the Payroll Support Program (PSP) in the CARES Act until March 2021. The PSP would pay airline employee salaries and prohibit furloughs for an additional six months to give our industry the opportunity to restore stability and save millions of jobs. Most airline CEOs (including those at American Airlines, United Airlines, and Southwest Airlines) and their trade group, Airlines For America, have also publicly supported the extension. In addition a bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives sent a “Dear Colleague” letter this week to the leaders of the House and Senate asking for passage of this legislation to protect airline employees. This legislation is the only way to guarantee that millions of airline and airline dependent jobs will not be furloughed on October 1, when the current bill expires. Please do your part, and send a message to your elected officials to support this legislation today.
We know these are difficult times, and the TWU is working hard to support you and keep you informed. Please let us know if you have any concerns or need assistance, and make sure everyone you fly with is receiving accurate information by signing up on our website.
Stay safe at home and at work. We will make it through this, together.