Often times airline unions benefit senior workers at the expense of junior ones. They tell their members that workers are ‘in this together’ but it often isn’t true.
Sometimes airline union leaders flat out steal from their members. Sometimes it’s more subtle.
- JetBlue and Frontier are both vying to acquire Spirit Airlines
- If JetBlue acquires Spirit, flight attendants (and other employees) will wind up with raises, up from ultra low cost carrier pay levels to JetBlue’s pay
- So naturally unions favor the JetBlue deal, since that means more pay for their members. Right? Right?
Not so. Sara Nelson’s AFA-CWA has come out in favor of Frontier acquiring Spirit.
- Her union currently represents flight attendants at both airlines.
- So they’d continue to represent flight attendants at a combined Frontier-Spirit
- JetBlue flight attendants are represented by the Transport Workers Union. The JetBlue work group is larger. If JetBlue acquires Spirit we can expect the combined group to be represented by TWU. AFA-CWA loses members.
“We are thrilled to announce our support for the merger of Spirit and Frontier Airlines after reaching a transition agreement that protects Flight Attendant jobs,” commented Sara Nelson, international president of AFA on Tuesday.
“We support the necessary regulatory approvals that will improve competition, increase consumer options and experience, and maintain and grow good union jobs.”
This isn’t merely a process update. It specifically doesn’t mention the potential of a JetBlue merger and how they’d happily work on an agreement with that airline.
AFA-CWA has secured certain trivial concessions that make it sound like they have gotten something meaningful from the airlines in exchange for this endorsement. There won’t be flight attendant furloughs as part of the merger, but the pitch was to grow the airlines anyway. Frontier is essentially buying Spirit’s order book of new planes with this deal, in addition to their own planes, the airlines are set to grow especially in the current travel environment.
Endorsing Frontier’s acquisition of Spirit is Sara Nelson selling out her members’ pay in order to maintain the size of her union, and in order to prevent another union from growing at her expense.