Frontier pilots' union says negotiations to raise pay are stalled

DENVER – The Frontier airlines pilots’ union is threatening to strike, if an agreement with the company to raise pilot pay is not reached and the union took the next step in bringing that option closer Friday.

The Air Line Pilots Association, International sent a letter to the National Mediation Board saying mediation has failed and the pilots want to move a step closer to a strike.

The pilots’ union has asked the mediation board to extend an offer for binding arbitration to both sides. The step is a required formality.

"It's highly unlikely the pilots' union would accept binding arbitration," said Alan Christie, spokesman for the pilots who are part of the union at Frontier. 

If just one side declines, the negotiations enter a 30-day cooling off period after which Frontier could choose to lock out pilots or the pilots could legally choose to strike. Prior to the end of this 30-day cooling off period a strike would not be legal.

A strike would likely temporarily halt the company’s operations.

During the 30-day period, both sides will be negotiating, Christie said.

The letter from the pilots' union suggested an agreement is not near.

“The company’s bargaining conduct and proposals evidence an approach that is inconsistent with good faith bargaining, or a desire to complete an agreement on reasonable terms,” the letter said. “The company has made 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 routinely negotiate.”

Pilots say they are unhappy because they are the lowest-paid pilots in North America who fly Airbus planes. They want higher wages.

The Air Line Pilots Association claims pilots at Frontier earn, on average, 60 percent of what pilots do at other airlines.

“Based on the parties’ final positions, it’s clear that an impasse exists, and further mediation will be futile and waste board resources,” the pilots’ union letter also said.

Frontier Airlines spokesman Jonathan Freed issued a statement to Denver7 Investigates Friday, which is similar to past statements from Frontier.

"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. We look forward to working toward an agreement that is fair, sustainable, and provides security for our collective future.”

Freed declined to say how likely a strike is or answer further questions.

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