We’ve all heard about the “direct relationship” JetBlue Crewmembers have with the company. You may wonder what that really means, and why JetBlue leadership believes a direct relationship is better for Crewmembers and our company.
Labor unions were formed in an industrial era more than a century ago to negotiate the basic rights of powerless laborers – and they did. While unions served that basic purpose of a bygone time, over the past 40 years or more, the necessity for union intervention has decreased as post-industrial leadership started to understand that healthy labor relations propelled their business results. Consequently, union membership has steadily decreased over that time period in all industries, including the airline industry.
Many JetBlue Founders came from other airlines, where the history of labor-management relations ranged from workable to toxic. Our Founders wanted to reinvent the low-cost carrier model by giving Customers a great JetBlue Experience, and they wanted the Crewmember experience to be different, too.
Far from the laborers of a century ago, our Crewmembers are considered “citizens” of JetBlue – with the rights and responsibilities that come with that.
You have the right to seek resolution to any issue via the open door policy.
You have the right to expect leaders to live up to the Values.
Calling a Safety time-out – stopping the operation if you see anything unsafe or anything that could contribute to an unsafe environment.
You are responsible for delivering a great Customer Experience, and earning our right to compete and earn loyal Customers.
Being able to work directly with each other has enormous benefits to our business and to your job security. Ideas can move quickly through our company, and we can execute faster than other airlines. Crewmembers contribute to and share in the success of the company. When airlines and Crewmembers are unable to work directly with each other, the business suffers.
Having a third party represent your interest doesn’t always pan out. In 2011, a court agreed with a group of former TWA Pilots that their union, the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) misrepresented their interests in the seniority merger with American Airlines. ALPA allowed the 2,200 TWA Pilots to be “stapled” to the bottom of the AA list, in the hopes (it is presumed) that the AA Pilots’ union, the Allied Pilots Association (APA) would rejoin ALPA – a quid pro quo, in other words. The union merger never happened.
Just as unions originally formed to ensure balance between the needs of the company and the requirements of the workers, now unions themselves are the perpetrators of the very same acts they claim they exist to protect workers from. Somewhere along the line, unions became a business, not an advocacy group, but they can only be successful if the companies they are associated with are successful. Here are some examples of union thinking that, we think, are destructive to their own self-interest:
- Forbes: Flight Attendant Unionists Tells Customer to Drop Dead
- Former United Pilots’ Union Leader: “We don’t want to kill the golden goose [United], we just want to choke every last egg out of it.”
Unions make a lot of promises – including job security – to win your vote and collect dues out of your pay, but unions have a poor track record of delivering on election promises. JetBlue Founders considered job security to be the most important promise the company could make to Crewmembers. That’s why JetBlue has a strict but simple policy on furloughs: we don’t do it. When the price of oil spiked to $147/barrel in 2008, we had to reduce flying, but no one lost a job. Instead, bid divisors for Pilots and Inflight Crewmembers were lowered, and hours reduced, and we also offered a voluntary “R&R” leave or separation from the company, but no one took a pay rate cut and no one lost their job.
The commitment Crewmembers show to the company by delivering a great Experience every day, on every flight, to every Customer, is rewarded with minimum profit sharing of 5% every year – whether the company earns an annual profit or not!
Do you have questions? Feel free to talk with your Crewleader, or if you prefer to remain anonymous, post your question to this form, and check back to see answers to the most frequently asked questions.
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