Federal judge forces Spirit Airlines pilots back to work

A federal judge in Florida has ordered Spirit Airlines pilots, who were forced to strike due to management refusal to budge on low pay, back to work.

“Under order of the court, you must immediately resume your normal working schedule,” the bargainers for the pilots, members of the Air Line Pilots Association, told their members.

The court order also barred bargainers – the union’s Master Executive Council – and ALPA from defying it. The judge in the case scheduled a May 15 hearing on further moves.

The court order not only bars continuing the strike, but also any “work stoppage, slowdown, sickout, work to rule campaign” or concerted refusal to fly normally or on overtime.

“It further appears that unless such activity is restrained, the travel plans of large numbers of plaintiff’s (Spirit’s) customers will be disrupted, and the public will be deprived of transportation services, causing serious and substantial damage to the public interest,” federal District Judge William Dimitrouleas wrote.

“It further appears that if the temporary restraining order” – the judge’s ruling that sent the pilots back to work – “is issued and final judgment in granted in favor of defendants (the pilots), the injury to defendants, if any, will be minor when compared with the loss and hardship that plaintiff and the public will suffer if the TRO is not issued.”

“Since we started current negotiations in February 2015, the company has made more than $642 million in net profits,” Capt. Stuart Morrison, chairman of the Spirit unit of ALPA, told the union’s entire executive council on April 28. “While pilots at comparable airlines have seen substantial improvements in compensation, our pilots continue to work under a seven-year old agreement that puts us well below the industry-standard.”

Morrison said that despite the profits, management “is proposing a compensation package that would cement its pilots at the bottom of the industry and offset any increases in pay or benefits with work rule concessions.”

Source: PAI