Pilots for JetBlue Airlines, the nation's sixth largest carrier, voted Tuesday to unionize after rejecting two previous union votes.
The more than 2,600 pilots, with a vote of about 71%, agreed to join the Air Line Pilots Assn. International, which already represents more than 50,000 pilots at 31 carriers in the U.S. and Canada.
Until the vote, JetBlue was the last major airline without union representation. The New York-based airline was founded in 1999.
“ALPA welcomes the JetBlue pilots,” said Capt. Lee Moak, the group's president. “The association is ready to work with JetBlue pilots to achieve their goals. They make our union stronger by adding their unified voices to the association's strong bargaining and advocacy efforts. ”
The pilots rejected union votes in 2008 and 2011.
The vote comes as airlines across the country continue to look for ways to save money, either by fitting more passengers per flight or eliminating less-profitable routes to small and middle-size cities.
“Today, JetBlue pilots have voted for ALPA representation so that we have the ability to improve our professional careers,” JetBlue captains Gustavo Rivera and Rocky Durham said in a statement.