Pilot strike could be averted at Spirit

Washington DC
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A labour strike could be postponed at Spirit Airlines even if pilots and management fail to reach agreement before a 30-day cooling off period ends, says Spirit pilot leader Sean Creed.

If the 12 June deadline arrives and both sides are in firm agreement on basic principles, job action could be postponed, says Creed.

He points out that Spirit pilots have not had a raise in three years. With four more days remaining, negotiations could be extended under certain circumstances, he says. "In order to continue, if we are talking about more time to craft the agreed upon language and have commitments that have been made, you could look at a rolling deadline."

Still, many important issues remain unresolved he tells ATI. "The issues that remain require a sizable commitment on both sides. We have a pretty long road ahead of us. What we are looking for is parity with the industry."

The pilots, who are represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, have been in negotiations with management for three years. ALPA has been actively pressing for a contract resolution and has staged a number of informational picket lines to support the Spirit pilots over the past month.

The union has set up a web site featuring a "scab list" where they say they intend to post the name of any pilot who crosses the picket line to fly if there is a strike. The web site states: "History has so proved that approximately 4% of a union's pilots will cross a picket line and dishonor his or her union brothers and sisters."

Spirit management continues to publicly express optimism but privately has made plans for the event of a strike.

"Many issues have been resolved. This week's negotiations are focused on the remaining issues which center around pay rate and productivity," Spirit says in a statement.

"While Spirit is committed to reaching a fair and equitable deal, the company has also developed plans to continue operations and is working with customers whose flights may be affected."