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Judge Blocks Pilot Slowdown at Spirit Airlines



Spirit Airlines secured a temporary restraining order on May 9 against the Air Lines Pilot Association (ALPA) that called for the pilots’ union to stop its alleged work slowdown against the carrier.


U.S. District Judge William P. Dimitrouleas issued the emergency order, saying that Spirit “will suffer immediate and irreparable damage in the form of damage to its business reputation and customer goodwill, increased costs for measures designed to avoid flight delays and cancellations, and loss of revenue” before a hearing could take place.


In his broadly worded order, the judge ordered the pilots’ union to take “all reasonable steps” to immediately stop “calling, permitting, instigating, authorizing, encouraging, participating in, approving, or continuing any form of interference with Plaintiff’s airline operations, including, but not limited to, any strike, work stoppage, sick-out, slowdown, work to rule campaign, concerted refusal to accept voluntary or overtime flight assignments, or other concerted refusal to perform normal pilot operations consistent with the status quo, including but not limited to, slow taxiing, writing up maintenance items, calling in fatigued, delaying flights, refusing to answer a call from the scheduling, refusing to fly an aircraft that meets legal requirements or flight, or refusing to accept voluntary or overtime flying.”


ALPA and the Spirit pilots asserted that they “are not engaged in a job action.” On the heels of the court’s decision, the union issued a press release in which it declared: “The court has spoken and Spirit pilots will fully comply with the order handed down, which is completely in line with our overriding goal: the resumption of normal operations. We call on the company to join forces with ALPA and the Spirit pilots to do just that.”


Gerald Lutkus

Gerald F. (“Jerry”) Lutkus is a partner in the South Bend office of Barnes & Thornburg LLP where he is a member of the firm’s Labor and Employment Law and Litigation Departments. He practices in the areas of labor and employment law counseling and litigation, arbitration, collective bargaining, media law, including counseling of and litigation for media companies.

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