JetBlue Airways is the latest company to come under pressure for a union vote as a major airline union won the support of its workers.
Last Friday, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers announced that it would submit a request for JetBlue ground workers to receive a union vote.
In the latest move to organize workers, the main airline union said it had the support of 3,000 fleet service workers.
The request will be submitted to the National Arbitration Committee to involve working groups such as baggage handlers and other ground operations personnel.
What would that mean?
A favorable vote could lead JetBlue to become the third largest union working group.
Meanwhile, the pilots and flight attendants of the New York airline are already members of the union.
The push for union voting comes at a time when waves of union voting are sweeping large established companies like Amazon and Starbucks.
The vote could also take place while the company is in the process of acquiring Spirit Airlines.
According to the company’s annual data, more than 80 percent of Spirit Airlines employees are syndicated, compared to 46 percent for JetBlue.
Richard Johnsen, general vice president of IAM’s air transportation area, spoke to CNBC and assured them that a more regular schedule is one of the pillars of a potential contract of employment for the fleet service employees.
“They really have never had that opportunity to have a say in their future,” he revealed.
“Now might be the most critical time.”
Impact of the pandemic
At the start of the pandemic in 2020, staffing schedules ran high early on.
However, things would change as the demand for travel increased and the number of COVID cases began to decline.
Tensions arose with airline unions in the United States during the trial.
JetBlue released a statement
In light of the potential union vote, the New York-based airline released a statement stating:
“JetBlue values its relationship with all of our crewmembers, including our ground operations crewmembers who, for the last two years, helped manage the unprecedented challenges posed by the pandemic.”
“We firmly believe that the direct relationship we have with our ground operations crewmembers has worked, and will continue to work, and that third-party representation and the costs to our crewmembers that come with it are not in their best interests.”
Airlines and trade unions
Most, if not all, employees of major airlines are now largely represented by trade unions.
However, some airlines, such as JetBlue, have fewer than their competitors.
The employees of Delta Air Lines, the largest airline in the United States, are largely disorganized.
However, the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, the nation’s largest flight attendant union, is trying to change that.
The association is currently in the midst of an employment campaign at Delta Air Lines that began in 2019.
The longevity of union action can be attributed to the fact that flight attendants have always refused to unionize in the past.