Negotiations Fail: American Airlines Flight Attendants Told To Prepare To Strike – View from the Wing

Negotiations Fail: American Airlines Flight Attendants Told To Prepare To Strike – View from the Wing

Negotiations Fail: American Airlines Flight Attendants Told To Prepare To Strike


The American Airlines flight attendants union has told its members,

We do not believe further negotiations will be scheduled prior to the National Mediation Board determining to release the parties into a thirty-day cooling-off period. All American Airlines Flight Attendants should prepare for an upcoming strike.

According to the email, the union and company “remain apart on the key issues” including the date on which wages increases begin and on retro pay. Retro pay was expected to be the biggest issue, even as American increased its pay offer and the union reduced its demands.

  • Flight attendants haven’t had a pay increase since January 1, 2019. Their contract became amendable four and a half years ago.
  • Normally you would expect a signing bonus of some kind, but not a full make-good on lost raises for four and a half years. However Southwest Airlines just did a new flight attendant contract that included retro pay.

From the specifics of the union email it sounds as though progress was made in talks in each of the last two weeks. That suggests there is plenty of ground for the National Mediation Board not to declare an impasse since the parties are getting closer. However the union believes that they will do so.

  • The National Mediation Board must first declare an impasse
  • That starts a 30-day cooling off period
  • After which the parties can choose to engage in “self-help” including a strike

The union does not have to strike right away, and they’ve talked about targeting specific flights that might change each day, rather than an all-out work stoppage, in order to get most crewmembers paid while still causing maximum disruption to the airline. The union lacks the cash to fund strike payments and has told flight attendants to prepare to miss credit card payments.

Even if a 30-day cooling off period starts, it is possible that the parties could avoid a strike. Hopefully they will manage that, because a strike doesn’t benefit either side. Junior flight attendants can’t afford to go without pay. The airline already has challenges affording what they’re offering in negotiations.

The biggest beneficiary of a strike, and any resulting higher wages, will be unions at United and Alaska that are negotiating contracts. Parties will view what American Airlines flight attendants achieve as a starting point – without first having to go through a strike.

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