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Breeze pilots vote to unionize, an effort the airline vows to fight

Aug. 11, 2022
3 min read
Breeze pilots vote to unionize, an effort the airline vows to fight
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Breeze's pilots have voted to join a union.

By a 29-21 vote conducted by the National Mediation Board, pilots at the ultra-low-cost startup have voted to join the Air Line Pilots Association, the union said.

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“With 85% of eligible pilots participating in a representation election that concluded today, Breeze Airways pilots voted in favor of union representation and chose to join ALPA," the union said in a statement. "The National Mediation Board is expected to certify ALPA as the official bargaining representative for the airline’s pilots in the next few days.”

The NMB is the federal government body that handles labor relations in the airline and railroad industries.

In a statement, Breeze said it plans to take legal action against the vote.

More news about Breeze Airways:

"Breeze was disappointed to learn of the National Mediation Board’s (“NMB”) decision that the Air Line Pilots Association, International (“ALPA”) had won an election as union representative for Breeze pilots," an airline spokesperson said. "Breeze plans to file a legal challenge to the election since the NMB used a flawed election process that unlawfully denied a majority of Breeze’s pilots the right to vote in the election."

The basis of Breeze's argument is that the number of eligible pilots for the vote is based on those who were actively flying in commercial service at Breeze as of March 31, when the airline was smaller and had yet to begin Airbus A220 service, the spokesperson told TPG. Breeze believes that many more pilots should have been eligible for the vote.

Regardless of the timing, some Breeze pilots have raised issues about the pay and working conditions at the startup, a source familiar with the unionization effort told TPG.

Breeze first officers currently start at $75 an hour on both its Embraer and Airbus A220 fleets. By comparison, the first-year first officers at the three regional airlines owned by American Airlines make $90 per hour — an industry outlier but a figure that shows just how in demand pilots currently are, amidst an industrywide pilot shortage.

Should Breeze pilots prevail once management challenges the result of the union, they would begin collectively bargaining for a contract with the airline.

Featured image by (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
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