JetBlue Flight Attendants Seek Union Protection of Career, Health
Jetblue Airways flight attendants are laying the groundwork for union representation which has the airline’s management working overtime to undermine the efforts by inboxing flight attendants as part of an extensive anti-union communications campaign designed by a well-known law firm known for their union-busting schemes.
Flight attendants that we’ve spoken to at Jetblue’s JFK base have identified the communications as being not only inaccurate but defamatory and borderline threatening.
“When I read what Jetblue is sending us, it makes me feel even stronger about how much we need a union. I’ve been here for 12 years and have always been proud of this company but I almost don’t recognize this company anymore”, says a Jetblue flight attendant we spoke to in Long Beach. “They’ve told us that we can get into trouble for talking about getting a union when we are legally allowed to talk about it. They’re lying.”
A portion of a recent Jetblue email sent to flight attendants:
Jetblue flight attendants have grown tired of being at the mercy of the company’s ever-changing interpretation and manipulation of work-rules. Additionally, the at-will work environment has resulted in discipline and terminations with no recourse. Crew members want the job protections, grievance procedures, and quality of life improvements that the current union-free “direct-relationship” has been unable to deliver.
As at most carriers, Jetblue crews have experienced irregular operations caused by everything from computer system outages to major weather events; but it’s Jetblue’s response pattern in such cases that have them eager to form a union. Flight attendants also cite not being properly paid for mandatory training, such as the 3-day “Promises” cart training to prepare crews for the soon to be introduced cart based beverage service. Crews have described it to us as being “three days of barely paid torture” as they are only paid a fraction of their normal pay to attend.
Flight attendants at Jetblue have also seen drastic increases in health care costs, elimination of time in between flights for a decent meal (forced to rely on blue chips and other processed snacks all day), more aircraft cleaning responsibilities (as Jetblue cuts cleaning staff), unlivable wages for newer flight attendants, pay below that of other major carriers, and arbitrary discipline for calling in sick or using family leave.
Here’s an example of an issue that illustrates why so many flight attendants at Jetblue want a union advocating for them:
Toxic fume events on Jetblue flights have become more numerous and the company’s flippant approach to dealing with the events has left many crewmembers feeling abandoned. Jetblue’s stance on toxic fume events seems to parrot those of airline industry lobbying group, Airlines for America. From a recent Fortune Magazine article: “Kathy Grannis Allen, a spokeswoman for the industry lobbying group Airlines For America, said in an email that the FAA told Congress in 2015 that the “risk of these issues” is “extremely low.” Meanwhile, pilot and flight attendant unions estimate there are between 2.5 and 5 fume events per day. Even EasyJet has decided to meet this issue head-on by announcing a new cabin air filtration system to prevent these occurrences.”
A Jetblue flight attendant in Boston shared, “The toxic air issue and Jetblue management’s denial is so symbolic. They profess to care so much about the “team”, yet something as basic as fresh air is too much to ask for from them? They call people getting sick a “rough patch”? This is just an example of the way things have gotten here and I want a voice!”
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