Approximately 700 JetBlue pilots picket outside company headquarters

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Approximately 700 JetBlue pilots picketed the company’s headquarters in Long Island City, New York, on Thursday in an effort to advance contract negotiations that have spanned more than three years.

Represented by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), JetBlue pilots applied for mediation with the National Mediation Board in July 2017. They have also launched a campaign to raise public awareness about ongoing negotiations in recent months.

“For the past few months, we’ve done ads, billboards and radio spots sending the company the message that it’s time to deliver a contract,” Capt. Patrick Walsh, head of the JetBlue unit of ALPA, said. “The company, so far, has chosen to ignore these messages. As a result, hundreds of JetBlue pilots are here speaking as one, as they participate in our first informational picket to say ‘it’s time.’”

Other pilot groups have been able to reach agreements over the last three years, Walsh added, and “with each new contract, JetBlue pilots fall further and further behind the market rate.”

“JetBlue pays market rate for everything from gates to fuel — it’s time JetBlue pays its pilots the market rate for their profession,” Walsh said.

JetBlue pilots voted to unionize in 2014 with about 71 percent of the airline’s 2,600 pilots supporting the efforts.