Washington—At 5:01 a.m., June 12, Spirit pilots, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), went on strike against their company—and will not return to the cockpit until a fair and equitable contract is negotiated. Pilot negotiators agreed to extend the strike deadline twice in order to review final proposals put forth by both parties to keep the airline running. In the end, both sides could not reach an agreement.
“Immediately after 5:00 a.m., the Spirit Pilot Master Executive Council, as authorized by our pilots, called for and instituted a lawful strike against our management,” announced Captain Sean Creed, head of the Spirit unit of ALPA.
“Spirit pilots are willing to withdraw their services to get the contract they deserve,” said Captain John Prater, president of ALPA. “Every one of the 53,000 pilots of ALPA stands with them as they go on strike. As pilots, our livelihood is in the air—not on the picket line—but the inability of Spirit management to negotiate a contract that adequately compensates our professional members has created this dispute. I urge Spirit management to reconsider their position on the value of their experienced and professional airline pilots.”
The strike comes after nearly four years of contract negotiations and numerous attempts by the pilots to find a middle ground with management and avoid a strike. All Spirit pilots, especially first officers, have been working at below-market rates for years, and under substandard work rules.
For the past week, pilot representatives have been meeting with company officials in a last-ditch effort to reach an agreement. However, after two extensions that pushed the deadline until early Saturday morning, no agreement was reached, so the pilots were forced to use the last weapon in their arsenal and call for a lawful strike.
“No one wanted this strike—certainly not this pilot group. We have sacrificed so much to see this company prosper. Now we are sacrificing our paychecks until we get a contract that reflects our contributions to this airline,” said Creed. “This contract is not just for the pilots who currently fly for Spirit, right now. We have a responsibility to maintain our profession and pass down a legacy of a job worth having.”
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