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Monday, February 26, 2024
Feb. 26, 2024

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American Airlines flight attendant union ramps up strike threat ahead of holiday season

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American Airlines’ flight attendants are reaffirming their commitment to strike if they don’t reach an agreement with the Fort Worth-based carrier.

The board of directors of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, the union which represents American’s 26,000 flight attendants, will meet on Nov. 17 to approve a request from the union’s negotiating committee. The union would then request the National Mediation Board release the flight attendants from mediation, which American’s flight attendants have been in since June with the Fort Worth-based carrier. The release, if granted, then triggers a 30-day cooling-off period.

“Our flight attendants are tired of waiting for raises,” said Julie Hedrick, national president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants. “It’s been over five years since we’ve had a raise or seen any significant improvements to our contract.”

Flight attendants and American have been working on a deal since Feb. 2019, but took a pause during the pandemic. Flight attendants at United Airlines and Dallas-based Southwest Airlines are also in negotiations for a new contract deal.

In August, flight attendants at American voted 99.4% in favor of authorizing a strike. However, there are many steps needed to be taken for a union in mediation to actually strike at an airline under the Railway Labor Act. The Railway Labor Act, a law enacted in 1926, and later expanded to include airlines in 1936, is used generally to avoid any interruption of interstate commerce by bargaining unions and their companies.

American recently wrapped up a contract with its pilots, a deal granting raises of more than 41% of the four-year life of the deal that will cost the company upwards of $9.7 billion. Passenger service agents at American are also still in negotiations with the carrier.

American’s flight attendants will picket at various airports on Nov. 16 ahead of the busy winter travel season, according to the union.

“A strike is the last thing we want to see,” Hedrick said. “But we fully intend to use all options available under the Railway Labor Act.”

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