This week I, along with International Administrative Vice President Mike Mayes, joined your TWU IFC Negotiating Team (NT), in New York, for their negotiating session with JetBlue Management. I went to deliver the message personally that the full strength and support of the TWU is behind achieving the first contract our IFCs deserve. Also, that we cannot continue negotiating at the same pace as we have since returning to the bargaining table. During this session we were successful in reaching Tentative Agreements on six articles and started to engage in serious discussions about the issues that our IFCs have prioritized to reach the contract, with work protections, that they deserve.

Meanwhile, I know that you have continued to experience threats, intimidation, and unfair discipline that seem to be coming directly from Vice President of Inflight Ed Baklor. Unfortunately, it appears that Ed continues to react with emotion and fails to recognize that the TWU has offered to work with JetBlue to find solutions to his self-induced staffing and scheduling problems. Other carriers are facing similar staffing issues, as the industry has rebounded faster than economists expected. Other carriers have put provisions in place because flights are so full, to get the Flight Attendants to the duty assignment. Airlines have also worked with their unions to offer financial incentives to cover the short staffing issues in the operation. Mr. Baklor has clearly decided it is easier to blame others and seems to have taken take the low road by putting our IFCs in harm’s way. In one clear example of intimidation, IFCs were replaced and charged with a Refusal for simply asking a question. The Supervisor would not even look the IFCs in the eye and stated, “I’m just the messenger.” I have news for Mr. Baklor—the TWU has a “message” even though we have yet to ratify our first contract with JetBlue, we are prepared to defend our IFCs, and we will not sit by quietly and tolerate your continued bullying.

I know that you are all being overworked and underappreciated, which is why we are working to secure the first contract for the group. The TWU leadership also recognizes that you are facing unprecedented reschedules, commuting difficulties, passenger misconduct, provisioning shortages, and extended duty days, because we are in touch with you as the membership. Mr. Baklor has failed in staffing the airline adequately and is using IFCs as scapegoats. We know that you are sick and tired of being “sick” and “tired”, which is why the TWU Leadership has engaged JetBlue to accelerate the pace of negotiations. That is why we are asking that you do two things to combat this—1) do everything you can to report to work through this difficult time and 2) join the TAP Team in our fight for a fair contract.

While many of us at TWU have been in battle with bullies at airlines like this before, I recognize that many of you have not. One thing is for sure, a man like Ed Baklor has little regard for those he sees as subordinate to him. In our opinion, Ed Baklor does not seem to share the values of our work group, but with one voice, along with your negotiating team, we can become one Local Union that can command the “Respect and Results” we deserve.

Fraternally,
Gary Peterson
International Vice President
Air Division Director
Transport Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO