Seventy Two Hours Into Their Strike Spirit Pilots Aren’t Flinching


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Seventy Two Hours Into Their Strike Spirit Pilots Aren’t Flinching

Shane Nolan
  June 15, 2010 – Spirit Airlines pilots went on strike 5:01 AM on Saturday morning as a result of contract breakdowns, Spirit pilots want a fair and equitable contract. The pilots are seventy-two hours into their strike, Spirit pilots aren’t flinching with high turnouts of picketers in Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, and Atlantic City compelled to walk the line. Flights have so far been cancelled through Thursday. Talks are set to resume today, at the request of the National Mediation Board.

They were, of course, joined by a number of supporters; fellow ALPA members, family, and friends, and other union workers. The camaraderie among the groups is electric and continues to feed the energy needed to stay unified and stay strong.

In Detroit, as seven Spirit Airbuses sat empty at a hangar less than a mile from nearly deserted ticket counters, Spirit’s strikers were out in high spirits. Nearly 100 pilots, flight attendants, and family members walked the line in solidarity. It was the biggest group so far in DTW, exceeding even the 92 walkers who picketed in the dark before Friday’s midnight deadline.

“I’m overwhelmed by this. This is the way it should be,” DTW F/O Rep Carlos Cueto told the crowd. “By your being out here every day, we drive this process and we keep control. And that’s a powerful thing.”


ALPA Vice President Bill Couette (EGL), who has walked with the Detroit contingent every day since Thursday, said he was especially impressed with the large number of people who picketed as families, with a pilot, spouse, and often young children as well. “Be proud of yourselves, because you’re doing a fantastic job,” he said. 

ALPA pilot groups providing support in DTW on Day 2 included Continental, Delta, Pinnacle, Eagle, and ExpressJet. In Fort Lauderdale, more than 110 pilots, families, and flight attendants disregarded the heat to show management that their combined resolve is strong. Segmenting the group to get maximum exposure, the pilots picketed at both the airport and just outside the airport’s property. Spirit pilots were joined by pilots from AirTran, Allegiant, Atlas, Colgan, Continental, Gulfstream, Pinnacle, Southwest, SkyWest, and United. 

In Atlantic City, the consolidated site of the LaGuardia and ACY picketers, scorching temperatures did not sway Spirit pilots and picketers from marching the line. Nearly two dozen Spirit pilots and supporters from ExpressJet and Continental showed their undying determination by picketing despite a morale-breaking permit restriction limiting picketing to only two sign-holders at a time. The pilots grouped at a nearby location and waited their turn to be shuttled to and from the airport to serve a 20-minute shift. 

Within sight of three shuttered Spirit planes, engines covered and neatly parked in a row, the Spirit pilots stood proudly in the designated picketing area with their strike signs. Capt. David Morlando, Spirit Council 18 chairman, said, “Our guys are in this for the long haul, and we know pilots from other carriers are watching us closely, rooting for our success.” He added, “It is encouraging to have crewmembers from AirTran (the only other airline serving ACY) and charter operations take the time to cross the airport roadway to shake our hands and tell us they support the Spirit pilots 100 percent.” 

Picketing will continue at Atlantic City Int’l Airport every day until the strike is resolved. In a message to its pilots, the MEC said, “In the days ahead, we ask you to remain strong and to know that we will get our contract. If we remain unified, if we remain together—there is simply no possible way for us to fail.”

Spirit Airlines flight attendants, represented by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA), announced on Monday their support for the carrier’s pilots' fight for a fair contract. In a Statement of Support, the Spirit AFA-CWA Master Executive Council (MEC) overwhelmingly pledged their support to the pilots for a successful conclusion to current negotiations. "Spirit flight attendants are committed to assisting our pilots in achieving the best contract possible," stated the Spirit AFA-CWA MEC.

The Allied Pilots Association (APA), certified collective bargaining agent for the 11,500 pilots of American Airlines, expressed support for the pilots of Spirit Airlines following the recent declaration of an impasse in contract negotiations with that carrier’s management. “We are well acquainted with the challenge our Spirit Airlines colleagues face,” said APA President Captain Lloyd Hill.

“They are dealing with a management team engaged in delay tactics and intent on extracting further employee concessions, which has unfortunately become a familiar refrain throughout the airline industry. “As professional aviators, we cannot permit the industry-wide ‘race to the bottom’ mentality that prevailed during much of the past decade to continue,” he said. “We therefore pledge our support to the pilots of Spirit Airlines as they attempt to conclude their contract negotiations amicably and without inconvenience to the airline’s customers.”

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