DALLAS — Sun Country Airlines (SY) Flight Attendants rejected a new tentative contract this week with an overwhelming majority. The SY FAs represented by Teamsters Local 120 voted against their collective bargaining agreement with the Minneapolis-based airline. This comes as airline workers across the United States have pushed for pay increases following the pandemic.
Monday’s vote was not even close, with 95% of SY FAs voting against the new deal. In a statement on Monday following the vote, the airline said it was “disappointed by the vote outcome.” In March, union negotiators announced an agreement in principle on the deal. Voting started earlier this month and was recently completed. With that said, the ramifications for Sun Country and its flyers are slim. The flight attendants who have still been working under a 2014 contract with a pay increase in 2016 will continue to do so.
Both sides could enter into mediation or arbitration to reach an agreement. A new deal could take weeks or months to complete. The news comes after the airline reported a record profit in the first quarter of 2023 and agreed to add five new aircraft to its fleet as the airline continues to grow. In Q1 of 2023, the airline reported a profit of US$38m, up from US$3.6m in Q1 of 2023. The airline also doubled down its plan to go head-to-head with Delta at Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) and making it into a two-airline market.
Since going public in March 2021, the airline has been extremely successful and has turned into a competitive ultra-low-cost carrier. Pilots for SY approved a new contract in December 2021, substantially increasing their compensation. Also, fleet employees and mechanics voted to unionize in the past year.
As airlines have rebounded from the pandemic, disputes between management and employees have occurred regularly. Pilots and American Airlines (AA), Alaska Airlines (AS), and Delta Air Lines (DL) voted to strike but then reached an agreement with a new contract that included substantial pay increases. On May 11, the Southwest Airlines (WN) pilot union voted to authorize a strike.
With that said, it is rare for employees to reject a contract that their union has already agreed to. SY’s 600 flight attendants and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters union agreed in principle on a new deal in March with Sun Country. This was after an informational picket at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in February.
Joe Ferreira, Teamsters Airline Division Director, commented, “We stand with Local 120 flight attendants in their campaign to get a strong contract at this employer…These workers are the frontlines of this industry, and they deserve a collective bargaining agreement that reflects how valuable they are to the employer.”
The Sun Country Airlines Flight Attendant Negotiating Committee commented, “The flight attendants did this to make a point – this contract is not good enough…We stand together to work towards an agreement that will be acceptable for everyone.”
Featured image: N848SY Sun Country Airlines Boeing 737-8JP KBOS/BOS. Photo: Marty Basaria/Airways