(Bloomberg) -- 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.
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. That came as the company embarked on a new cost-reduction program designed to save as much as $250 million a year by 2024.
The airline’s current relationship with employees “has worked and will continue to work,” JetBlue said in a statement. “Third-party representation and the costs to our crew members that come with it are not in their best interests.”
The carrier, which for years has 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,” District 141 President Mike Klemm said in a separate 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.”
(Updates with company comment in fourth paragraph)
©2022 Bloomberg L.P.