FOR IMMEDIATE RELASE
September 22, 2021
Contact: Denise Romano, firstname.lastname@example.org
Turbulence at Queens-Based JetBlue Airlines
Transport Workers Union of America Takes JetBlue to Court
The union representing JetBlue’s approximately 5,000 Inflight Crewmembers (flight attendants) filed a lawsuit on Tuesday, September 21, against the company for violating both the New York City and New York State “Paid Sick Leave” laws.
JetBlue’s Inflight Crewmembers (flight attendants) – essential workers who have been on the front-line throughout this ongoing pandemic – are under enormous mental and physical stress. They are working 12 to 18 hours a day and are being subjected to unprecedented levels of harassment and assaults from passengers.
Now, they are getting abused by their employer. JetBlue is threatening disciplinary action that could lead to termination against IFCs if they take a sick day.
“JetBlue talks a good game about being a benevolent employer, but actions speak louder than words,” TWU International President John Samuelsen said. “They created an abusive atmosphere by greedily scheduling more work than they can handle, and they are making their employees pay for their mismanagement. Sick and stressed-out workers are being forced to come to work.”
The two laws require employers to grant up to 56 hours of paid time off a year. Employers cannot require a doctor’s note unless the employee calls in sick for three or more consecutive days.
But JetBlue is demanding IFCs (flight attendants) who take just one or two sick days get a doctor’s note in clear violation of the law.
“It’s illegal and we are in a pandemic,” TWU Organizing Director Angelo Cucuzza said. “Try and get a doctor to see you and write a note because you have a migraine, or are exhausted from working too many hours, or simply because you need a mental health day.”
JetBlue uses a point-based disciplinary system. Get too many points and you can get fired.
With too few IFCs (flight attendants) to meet the flight schedules JetBlue itself created, the company has since July declared every weekend a “Critical Coverage period” and has required sick notes from anyone who tries to take a paid sick day. (A weekend in the airline industry runs from Friday to Monday night). Disciplinary points are doubled during these periods, bringing IFCs even closer to termination.
TWU filed the lawsuit in Queens Supreme Court. It is asking a judge to order JetBlue to stop the threats and demands that are effectively denying IFCs (flight attendants) their legal right to paid time off.
The TWU represents more than 150,000 workers across the airline, railroad, transit, universities, utilities and service sectors