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jetBlue Flight Attendants Reject First Union Contract Despite “Herculean Achievement” to Hammer Out Deal

jetBlue Flight Attendants Reject First Union Contract Despite “Herculean Achievement” to Hammer Out Deal

jetBlue Says Its "Disappointed" Cabin Crew Have Decided To Be Represented By A Union In Historic Vote

Flight attendants at New York-based jetBlue Airways have rejected a tentative labor agreement which had been over two years in the making the airline confirmed on Friday. jetBlue and the Transport Workers Union of America (TWU) said they had managed to hammer out a deal last month in what was described as a Herculean achievement but the agreement would first need to be ratified by JetBlue’s 5,000 strong flight attendant workforce.

“We are disappointed in the results of the vote,” commented JetBlue’s head of customer experience, Ian Deason a short time after the results of the vote had been made public. “Both the TWU and JetBlue worked through unprecedented circumstances to reach an agreement that was fair to our inflight crewmembers. We will work with TWU to determine next steps,” Deason continued.

The TWU had urged flight attendants to ratify the deal, saying that given the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic it was “essential” they had a legally binding contract to fall back on for the first time in the airline’s history.

“Our negotiating team recognized the importance of bargaining this inaugural agreement, prioritizing our members’ long-term job security, codification of work rules, and quality of life issues into this agreement,” explained TWU International President John Samuelsen last month.

“Bringing 5,000+ Crewmembers under the protection of a trade union contract, right smack in the middle of Covid-19 is a Herculean achievement,” he continued.

Flight attendants voted overwhelmingly in favour of union representation in April 2018 – a result that, at the time, jetBlue also described as “disappointing”. In response to the vote, the airline said having a direct relationship with employees was “superior” to negotiating through a union.

The tentative agreement was said to cover a range of issues including work rules, job security, furlough, and grievance procedures, as well as merger and acquisition protection.

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