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TWU / JetBlue IFC COVID-19 Update—04-17-2020

Happy Birthday, JetBlue IFCs. Two years ago, a two-thirds majority of your workforce voted for the Transport Workers Union of America (TWU) to act as your exclusive bargaining representative. It seems like only yesterday that we anxiously awaited the results. Looking back over those two years, you can be proud of yourselves, You are TWU, and, working together, we have accomplished some amazing things.

You elected a dedicated and talented Negotiating Team who got you to the table in record time. Your team has reached twenty Tentative Agreements with JetBlue Management, and they are close to finalizing just a few outstanding issues pertaining to several more articles. Your JetBlue IFC advocates and the TWU have established IFC Committees for Communications, Grievance, Scheduling, Professional Standards, Education and Training, Hotel, Legislative Affairs, and Health and Safety that have been in the middle of the fight to to help protect all JetBlue IFCs during the COVID-19 crisis. We also established a Peer Observer Program that trained over one hundred volunteer Peer Observers, who have actively assisted IFCs before, during, and after their disciplinary meetings.

Then we experienced the COVID-19 pandemic.

From the beginning of the crisis, your JetBlue IFC advocates, working with the TWU, have provided invaluable support for your coworkers. When JetBlue IFCs informed the Health and Safety Committee about a passenger who notified them that he tested positive for COVID-19, the TWU demanded that the IFCs be pulled from their trip, returned home, and quarantined. Since then, the TWU has advocated for, and won, the following protections and policy changes:

  • Pay protection for mandated quarantines or positive tests from work exposure
  • Ability to wear gloves and masks on the plane
  • Additional disinfectant wipes on the plane
  • Limiting ASB
  • More rigorous cleaning and disinfecting of aircraft
  • Not contesting unemployment application for voluntary leaves
  • Reopening Standard Pay Option
  • Designated crew lavatory
  • Recurrent Training grace month waivers
  • Ability to use an alternate cabin seat for social distancing during critical phases of flight
  • Proper social distancing in hotel transportation and limos
  • Parking in airport terminals
  • Discontinuation of cabin refreshment service to limit passenger contact
  • Waivers for safety demos and Recurrent Training hands on demonstrations
  • Continuing to request hand sanitizer on the plane and discontinuation of Blue Turning by IFCs

In addition, the TWU Government Affairs Team in Washington DC has worked with the TWU/JetBlue IFC Legislative Affairs Committee to rally our Members, ensuring passage of the CARES Act, which provides funding that is designated to pay JetBlue IFCs’ wages and benefits and prohibits furloughs through the end of September. No one accomplished this alone—we did it together.

Perhaps the biggest reminder of what we can accomplish as a Union became most evident this week. The TWU has been more than willing to work with JetBlue Management to create opportunities for voluntary leaves or time off, but we have been very clear that we would not allow arbitrary decisions that force IFCs to decide between risking their health or feeding their families. When JetBlue announced the implementation of the “JETCRW Direct Request” app, they insisted its intended purpose was to allow IFCs to request release from RSL further out from the footprint of their trip while forgoing pay protection. They assured the TWU that they were not changing the long-standing ISM policy of releasing Crew Members with pay protection if Reserve levels were adequate. Within hours of the app’s implementation, IFCs were directed to use the app to request release and their pay protections were forfeited.

The TWU immediately demanded a resolution to this issue, and (after initially stonewalling us), Management finally agreed to the Union’s demand that Crew Scheduling must evaluate the operation 72–hours in advance and release IFCs from RSL with pay protection, if staffing is adequate. They have also committed to automating this process to eliminate long telephone hold times in the future. There were many of you who reported this policy change and shared your specific situations with us, and we thank you for taking the time to help us. Your Negotiating Team and the TWU used your feedback to hold Management accountable for a policy change that did nothing but deny pay protection to IFCs and put them at risk by insisting they travel to their Base when there was no work to do.

We stood together and we won. One of the reasons JetBlue IFCs voted for TWU two years ago is because you were tired of arbitrary changes that took money out of your pockets and impacted the quality of your lives. Standing together as a unified Transport Workers, you now have the ability to fight back and win. We will work with you to use that power to secure your first contract.

On a final note, we were deeply saddened to discover that our JetBlue family lost another valued member on April 12. Rafael ”Ray” Pabon, a JFK Inflight Crewmember, passed away due to complications from COVID-19. Please hold Ray’s family and friends closely in your hearts and thoughts during this very difficult time.

Thank you for your continued contribution as essential workers as you continue to provide vital services to our country during the COVID–19 crisis. Fly safely, take care of yourselves, and keep supporting each other. Together we will beat this.