JetBlue Airways Corp. baggage handlers and other airport ground workers are looking to gain union representation, potentially following pilots and flight attendants in joining an organized labor group at the carrier.
The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers said Friday it will file an application with the National Mediation Board after a sufficient number of the 3,000 ground workers expressed interest in joining. The IAM didn’t specify a timeline for an eventual vote by JetBlue workers.
The prospect of more collective bargaining agreements with labor may complicate the carrier’s efforts to cut costs. Higher operating expenses contributed to a bigger-than-expected second-quarter loss last month. That came as the company embarked on a new cost-reduction program designed to save as much as $250 million a year by 2024.
JetBlue, which for years touted the benefits of having a “direct relationship” with its employees, has faced a growing move toward organized labor. A majority of workers at most major US airlines are represented by unions, including Spirit Airlines Inc., which is set to be acquired by JetBlue for $3.8 billion.
“JetBlue workers are a smart, strong and determined group of workers and we can’t wait to welcome them into the IAM family,” IAM District 141 President Mike Klemm said in a statement. “The IAM will support JetBlue workers in getting to and winning this election and negotiating a union contract that reflects their true value to JetBlue Airways.”
The airline didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the union’s planned application.