(Adds company comment, background)
July 8 Spirit Airlines Inc baggage
handlers have voted to be represented by the machinists union,
joining three other employee groups at the low-cost carrier that
have bargaining agents.
Of 217 eligible voters, 131 voted to join the International
Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, according to
certified results from the U.S. National Mediation Board, which
supervised the election that began June 16 and ended on Tuesday.
Thirty-two of the Spirit Airlines workers voted for no
"While we are disappointed by the results, we fully support
our Team Members' right to choose and moving forward we are
committed to working with" the machinists union, Spirit Airlines
spokesman Paul Berry said in a statement.
The ramp employees work at airports in Fort Lauderdale,
Florida; Detroit; Atlantic City, New Jersey; and Myrtle Beach,
South Carolina, the machinists union said.
"The days of Spirit management unilaterally dictating wages
and working conditions end today," Daniel Krampert, a Spirit
ramp agent in Atlantic City, said in a statement provided by the
The Spirit Airlines election comes as unions mount a push to
make new inroads at U.S. carriers, particularly low-cost
airlines. Pilots at JetBlue Airways voted to join the
Air Line Pilots Association in April, the first successful union
drive by a worker group at that carrier. Union organizing drives
are also under way at carriers such as Virgin America, the U.S.
carrier in which Richard Branson's Virgin Group has a minority
The machinists union has a flight attendant campaign under
way at Delta Air Lines, spokesman James Carlson said.
Spirit, based in Miramar, Florida, offers low airfares but
charges fees for many other optional services. The carrier had
just over 3,600 workers at the end of 2013, 59 percent of which
were represented by labor unions. Its pilots are members of the
Air Line Pilots Association, and flight attendants and
dispatchers are represented by the Association of Flight
Attendants-CWA and the Transport Workers Union, respectively.
Spirit said in its most recent annual report that labor
expenses represented about 19 percent of its operating costs in
Shares of Spirit Airlines fell 1.5 percent to $62.41.
(Reporting by Karen Jacobs in Atlanta; Editing by Mohammad
Zargham and Jonathan Oatis)