Due to the slow pace of contract talks, officials at Frontier Airlines recently indicated they will ask the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), who represents the airlines’ employees, to give the their employees the authority to strike should negotiations break down and the federal government authorize a walkout.
“We are still working under a bankruptcy contract negotiated 10 years ago,” Frontier’s Master Executive Council (MEC) Chairman Capt. Tracy Smith said. “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.”
On Wednesday, ALPA’s Frontier Airlines MEC unanimously voted to conduct a strike authorization ballot that will officially open on August 22 and close on September 8. Should the measure pass, the ballot would authorize pilot leadership to declare a strike when the National Mediation Board (NMB) gives the pilot group the authorization to do so.
Contract negotiations between ALPA and Frontier began in March 2016. Since then, the two parties began working with a federal mediators in October 2016 with another mediation meeting scheduled for August 21, 2017.
Prior to any strike taking place, the NMB must release both sides from mediation and then provide an offer of binding arbitration. Should either part reject arbitration, a “cooling off” period of 30 days would begin. From there, both parties could then exercise their options of a union strike or a company lockout.
“We do not want to strike—we want the same pay and benefits as our peers,” Smith said. “ 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.”