For Immediate Release
|Bret Oestreich, National President
Aircraft Maintenance Technician and Related Union Requests Federal Mediation with Spirit Airlines Amid Stalled Talks at Bargaining Table
CENTENNIAL, Colo. – October 24, 2023 – After nearly a year of unproductive bargaining, the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA) filed for mediation with the National Mediation Board (NMB) on October 12, 2023, on behalf of Spirit Airlines’ Aircraft Maintenance Technicians (AMTs). An NMB docket number was issued today. If the NMB determines the parties have reached an impasse, the agency may release AMFA from negotiations, which would enable the union to call a strike after a 30-day cooling-off period.
AMTs at Spirit Airlines voted in August 2022 to join AMFA, the only craft-specific union representing AMTs and related skilled trades in North America. Since the vote, the union and Spirit have met in eight bargaining sessions, but Spirit has failed to respond to more than twenty (20) of the union’s proposed contract articles.
AMFA representatives believe that the Spirit Airlines Negotiating Committee has deliberately stalled negotiations in the hopes that a possible merger of the low-cost carrier and JetBlue could effect a change in union representation. In 2023, the Department of Justice (DOJ) sued to block the proposed merger on antitrust grounds alleging that the merger would eliminate about half of all ultra-low-cost seats in the industry. A trial on the merger is scheduled to begin later this month.
“We believe Spirit Airlines is intentionally slow-rolling and hindering the process at the bargaining table because of the proposed merger. They have failed to participate in meaningful good faith negotiations with their AMT skilled professionals,” says Bret Oestreich, AMFA’s national president.
The union’s request for mediation with the NMB is a process that falls under the Railway Labor Act (RLA). Under the RLA, if the parties are unable to reach an agreement, either party (or both) may request the NMB’s mediation services. In the event the NMB finds the parties at an impasse, the agency may authorize the parties to engage in economic self-help after a 30-day cooling-off period. AMFA would then be authorized to initiate a strike or other job action.
Oestreich says “When we started these negotiations last year, we anticipated that both parties would reach a tentative agreement in a reasonable time frame. Especially considering the mass exodus of highly skilled AMTs for better pay and benefits at competing airlines like Southwest, Delta, and Alaska. And, throughout our negotiations, Spirit’s management acknowledged that the airline is in survival mode as it loses its ability to hire and retain the skilled AMTs necessary to maintain safe operations. But instead of bargaining in good faith, they’ve failed to provide good faith counters to a majority of the articles we have introduced.
“Spirit’s Aviation Maintenance Technicians play a significant role in ensuring safe, reliable, and on-time operations for the flying public, flight crews, and the company. They deserve better.”
“Government oversight in the form of NMB mediation is the first step in forcing Spirit to finally move forward in our negotiations. AMFA will refrain from any strike activity or job action until the NMB releases us from mediation.”
The Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association is a craft-oriented, independent aviation union. AMFA represents licensed and unlicensed Aircraft Maintenance Technicians/Engineers and skilled trade groups actively involved in the aviation industry. These employees work directly on aircraft and/or components, support equipment, and facilities. AMFA is committed to elevating the professional standing of technicians/engineers and to achieving progressive improvements in wages, benefits, and working conditions of the skilled people it represents. For more information about AMFA visit www.amfanational.org.