Frustrated with the slow pace of contract talks, pilot leaders at Frontier Airlines will ask their members, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), to give them the authority to go on strike if negotiations break down and the federal government authorizes a walkout.
ALPA’s Frontier Airlines Master Executive Council (MEC) voted unanimously today to conduct a strike-authorization ballot that will open on August 22 and close on September 8. Once passed, the ballot would authorize the pilot leadership to declare a strike when the pilot group is given permission to do so by the National Mediation Board (NMB).
“We are still working under a bankruptcy contract negotiated 10 years ago. For the past two years, Frontier has enriched its owners and management with personal dividends paid from historically high revenues and profits, while our members are the lowest-paid Airbus pilots in North America,” said Frontier MEC chairman Capt. Tracy Smith.
“We lag behind our peers in virtually every aspect of pay, benefits, and job security. Our pilots repeatedly agreed to concessions to keep our company in business over the past decade, and it’s time for management to reciprocate by agreeing to a fair contract without further delay.”
ALPA opened contract negotiations with Frontier in March of last year. The parties have been working with a federal mediator since October 2016, with another mediation session set for the week of August 21.
“We do not want to strike—we want the same pay and benefits as our peers. But if a walkout is what it takes to get a market-rate contract, we are ready to do it and we’re confident that our 1,200 members will overwhelmingly give us that authority,” Smith said.
Before a strike could take place, the NMB would have to release the two sides from mediation, and then offer binding arbitration. If either party rejects arbitration, a 30-day cooling-off period would commence, after which both parties could exercise self-help—a strike by the union or a lockout by the company.