Spirit is back in the air today, having reached an agreement with its pilots on a contract. Actually, Spirit has been back in the air since 4:00 p.m. Thursday, and may need a few days to get operations back to normal.
But a poor relationship between airline and union is not specific to Spirit, and several other larger airlines are mired in ongoing negotiations that appear to be going nowhere. Here are some other airlines currently dealing with labor issues:
American: American’s cabin crew has been trying for years to negotiate a deal, but to no avail. American, on the other hand, is trying to reign in labor costs. The situation has only gotten tenser this year, with American floating the idea of training backup flight crew in the event of a strike. But even with a handful of fill-ins, a strike would absolutely cripple one of the world’s largest airlines. At the moment, both sides are waiting to see what the National Mediation Board (NMB) chooses as the next order of business. More talks? Declare a 30-day cooling-off period, after which the union would be legally able to strike? Chances are the NMB will make both sides talk a bit more, considering American’s size and, subsequently, the potential impact of a strike.
AirTran: Spirit pilots cited AirTran as having the sort of contract they wanted, but AirTran’s pilots themselves are locked in negotiations. The pilots have been working for a new deal for five years, and claim they are paid less than the industry standard. The union recently approved a strike in the event that negotiations ultimately fail. It’s safe to say any strike is far off at the moment, but the two sides don’t appear to be getting closer to a deal, either.
British Airways: British Airways just survived a round of strikes by its cabin crew, but the two sides are no closer to a deal than before. Talks have halted, and the union seems willing to engage in another round of walkouts as soon as August. A third-party mediator has presented the sides with an offer to work from, but so far neither side has budged. Of the three major labor disputes going on right now, this seems the most likely to produce a strike before summer ends.
With all these potential strikes on the horizon, it’s not a bad idea to brush up on your rights during a strike. Readers, are you worried about more airline strikes?