IAM Contracts provide the highest pay, the best job security and the best work rules in the airline industry. Without exception.
These agreements did not come easy. They were all created thanks entirely to the vision, hard work and solidarity of IAM members in the airline industry. These legally-binding contracts help to protect our wages, our safety and our future. They ensure that airline workers like us are given the respect that we deserve at work.
IAM Contracts are designed by airline Crewmembers, and are voted on by airline Crewmembers.
What is a contract?
Negotiating and winning great contracts are one of the most important goals of all unions.
A Contract, also called a "Collective Bargaining Agreement," is a multiyear agreement between unionized workers and managers at a company.
Once negotiated and ratified, a union contract becomes a legal document that can be defended in court. It will give covered employees a solid legal right to all the provisions within the document.
At airlines, employees and Crewmembers work to create contracts that reflect their unique values, priorities, and culture. Some work groups negotiate contracts that emphasize job security and strong pensions. Other groups opt for higher hourly wages and better working conditions.
Just as each group of workers is unique, each union contract is also unique. Each contract should represent the best deal that any particular group of workers could reach with any particular company.
What are the main components of a union contract?
While no two contracts will be identical, all IAM Contracts will have several sections that protect the things that are most important to Crewmembers.
For example, there are sections that detail agreements on pay, work schedules, health care contributions, pension, and things like day trade rights and seniority-based shift bidding.
Once ratified, Company Bosses cannot change any of these provisions without the approval of Crewmembers and the elected union reps that they choose.
Union contracts should always be fair to both the employees and managers since both parties should want what's best for the company itself. Union contracts will typically allow managers to do their jobs without interference - as long as they honor their word and operate in a legal, safe and ethical manner. There are normally clauses that state this explicitly within IAM Contracts, as well.
Can a Union Contract guarantee pay and benefit increases?
Once a contract is negotiated, and an agreement is reached between negotiators and company representatives, it will then go to the Crewmembers for final approval. If most Crewmembers support the proposed agreement (called a "Tentative Agreement"), then it becomes a legally - enforcable document.
Everything in that finished contract is guaranteed by law. If Crewmembers ratify a contract that includes pay raises, then Company Managers are legally obligated to honor their word to them.
Contracts don't just guarantee pay raises. They also provide legal protections for things like pensions, holiday pay, profit sharing, disciplinary rules and other things that Union Crewmembers included in their contract.
Does a company legally have to negotiate a contract? What if they refuse to sit down with Crewmembers?
US Labor Law states that both the Crewmembers and the Company must follow what are known as "Good Faith" standards.
The laws that regulate collective bargaining require both sides to respect the negotiating process. For example, both Crewmembers and Managers must agree to meeting times and locations that are reasonable for both parties. Neither party may attempt to intimidate or threaten the other side. Unreasonable demands and stonewalling is forbidden, and are violations of labor law.
If one side is determined to be bargaining in bad faith, then Federal Authorities may step in.
how are contracts negotiated?
The process usually begins with Crewmembers and Company Managers each forming "Negotiating Committees."
These negotiators will reflect the values and priorities of the respective sides in the negotiation. On the Crewmember side, negotiators will survey their coworkers for guidance in how to create a contract that accurately promotes the interests of Ground Ops Crewmembers.
Additionally, a group of legal experts, industry adivsors, labor specialists and experienced, highly trained IAM Negotiators will also participate.
Once the two sides come up with a contract that they think Crewmembers will accept, the result is called a "Tentative Agreement" and is sent out to the entire GO Crewmember workgroup. Once Crewmembers have had a chance to read over all the details, they will vote to either approve the Tentative Agreement, or to send it back.
If approved, the contract is then "ratified," and will go into effect. If voters reject the Tentative Agreement, the negotiations will resume.
This process will continue until Crewmembers are presented with a Tentative Agreement that they approve of and vote for.
Will Crewmembers have to wait until the next contract is negotiated in order to make needed workplace improvements?
No. Improving the workplace is the entire purpose of collective bargaining.
If management wants to throw a pizza party for Crewmembers, or hand out bonuses, they are more than welcome to do so at any time. In fact, managers at American Airlines opted to give Crewmembers a raise that was higher than what was negotiated. Nobody is going to file a complaint about great working conditions.
In cases where the contract itself requires some modification, there is a formal process to do that.
What if managers just ignore the contract, and keep doing whatever they want?
Many GO Crewmembers will be genuinely interested in Union Activism once becoming IAM Members. Some GO Crewmembers will be interested in serving their coworkers by enforcing the contract and making sure that managers honor the commitments made to Crewmembers by JetBlue.
Some of these GO Crewmembers will be elected to serve on their local "Grievance Committee." Grievance Committees are tasked with making sure that GO Crewmembers are not mistreated at work, that they have safe and orderly workplaces, and that there are no violations of their rights under the contract.
If a dispute between managers and Crewmembers arises, Grievance Committees will file a formal notice, called a "Grievance." A Grievance is a legal document that states that the Crewmembers believe that the company has violated the contract, or is asking Union Members to do something that is unsafe or illegal.
Once created, a Grievance cannot simply be ignored.
Grievances are discussed between company managers and the Grievance Committee members on a regular basis. Most of them are resolved at this stage.
If unresolved, it will be sent to the elected IAM District Officer that is responsible for that local, and he or she will then attempt clear the matter with JetBlue corporate managers. If the dispute persists, federal authorities may need to get involved. This process can become very expensive, and most companies will want to avoid the legal costs and potential penalties that come with losing a Grievance Case.