JetBlue pilots looking at union representation

It looks like unions might be coming to JetBlue, at least for their pilots.  Up until now the carrier has had wonderful relations (for the most part) with their crew across pretty much their entire operation.  Actually the pilots acknowledge that in their statement.  Still, they are looking to unionize to protect themselves according to the letter sent to all pilots today.

Reading the notice sent is somewhat entertaining for the contradictions that seem to be included:

Consistent with our stated goal of setting a new standard for employee labor relations, these actions were taken prior to the final submission of our petition. It was imperative for our leaders to receive this important information directly from the source, rather than from the media or from any third party. We feel very strongly in this regard not only because it is the right thing to do, but also because it indicates the type of relationship we have today and the relationship we wish to continue in the future.


Without support under the rule of law, providing for our pilots in a manner appropriate to their status as career employees often is not legally possible. This underscores our need to have a relationship based not on the benevolence of a leadership team that could transition at any time, but on a relationship where there exists a means to resolve our private discourses under the support of legal process. It is our processes that are flawed, not our people.

In other words, they really like the relationship they have and want to continue it, so they are pursuing a change in that relationship through the affiliation with a union.  I’m also intrigued by the claims that “the rule of law” is necessary to ensure that the relationship continues.  The suggestion that the relationship exists only because of a benevolent leader is entertaining to me. 

Don’t get me wrong; I understand the value of unions and their ability to negotiate better than any single member can.  I just question the timing and value of pursuing union affiliation at this point in time.  The airline is one of the best out there in terms of keeping employees on the books (they have a strict “no furlough” policy), so even in the current economic climate the pilots are not really suffering too much.  From my perspective the decision to unionize right now seems rather aggressive and antagonistic.  The whole concept that they need this just in case seems more like an instigation than a protection.

I hope things work out OK for everyone involved, but this seems to be a very strange move at this particular point in time.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.