The union representing Frontier Airlines pilots reports it has petitioned the National Mediation Board for permission to end contract negotiations, setting the groundwork for an eventual strike.
The world’s largest pilot’s union says it has given up hope for good-faith contract negotiations with Denver-based Frontier Airlines. The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) announced on Monday that it has petitioned the National Mediation Board (NMB) to impose a deadline on contract talks. If the federal government agrees to the request, labor actions including a strike could take place within thirty days of the new deadline.
“Despite its industry-leading financial performance, Frontier Airlines has insisted upon a substantially discounted pilot contract,” ALPA President Captain Tim Canoll said in a statement announcing the move. “The company has made it plain that it is unwilling to pay market rates, make industry-standard retirement contributions, or enter into job-security provisions that other companies accept and negotiate routinely. ALPA believes this dispute will only be resolved by proffering arbitration.”
Frontier pilots have been working under the same contract for more than a decade and have been in negotiations with the company for more than two years. According to the labor union, pilots at the ultra-low-cost carrier are the lowest-paid narrow-body pilots among all US airlines with wages nearly 40 percent lower than the industry average.
“Frontier pilots have been working under the same contract for more than 10 years while our peers at other airlines have negotiated big increases with their companies,” Captain Tracy Smith, the Chairman of the ALPA Frontier Airlines group, explained. “We are absolutely unwilling to work at a discount when our airline pays market rates for fuel, aircraft, gates, and everything else. We demand a market-rate agreement and we are 100 percent ready to strike if that’s what it takes to get one.”
Frontier pilots voted to authorize a strike in August 2017. If the NMB declares negotiations at an impasse, there will be a thirty-day cooling off period before any labor action can legally take place.
Unlike the labor leaders involved, the airline has consistently declined to identify sticking points in the contract talks. Company officials again refused to speculate this week on the likelihood of either a strike or employee lockout.
“We continue to be actively engaged in negotiations with our pilots for a new contract and continue to exchange proposals under the guidance of the National Mediation Board,” Frontier Airlines spokesperson Jonathan Freed told Denver ABC affiliate KMGH. “We look forward to working toward an agreement that is fair, sustainable, and provides security for our collective future.”