The pilots of Spirit Airlines walked off their jobs on Saturday morning. They are on strike protesting demanding better pay. The strike was called on after negotiations that went on into the wee hours failed to produce a new contract.
“Spirit pilots are willing to withdraw their services to get the contract they deserve,” said Captain John Prater, president of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), in announcing the job action. “As pilots, our livelihood is in the air — not on the picket line — but the inability of Spirit management to negotiate a contract that adequately compensates our professional members has created this dispute.”
Talks have been going on for four years, ALPA said, and “all Spirit pilots, especially first officers, have been working at below-market rates for years, and under substandard work rules.”
The Miramar, Fla.-based company said it had offered 30% pay increases totaling $70 million over five years while pilots would have retained a four-day-off break between every flight. The pilots would also have received a $3,000 signing bonus and an 8% 401-K match.
“We are frustrated and disappointed that our pilots have turned down [the offer] while disrupting thousands of our customers and jeopardizing the livelihoods of our over 2,000 employees,” Ben Baldanza, the chief executive, said in a written release.
All Spirit Airlines flights were cancelled Saturday and customers will get credit for the full amount of the flight, as well an extra $100 toward a future flight, the company said.