Flight attendants at a wholly-owned subsidiary of American Airlines have voted overwhelmingly in favor of authorizing strike action over stalled contract negotiations that the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA) says would leave its members with even less take-home pay than now if they accepted the company’s proposals.
Strike ballots were sent out to around 300 flight attendants employed by Piedmont Airlines in late September and the count was tallied and verified on Thursday. Just over three-quarters of eligible flight attendants took part in the vote and 100 per cent of those backed strike action.
The Association of Flight Attendants is threatening to use the strike action to cause “chaos” across the American Airlines system in an attempt to win concessions from the carrier. Although Piedmont is relatively small, delays and cancellations caused by just a small walkout could cause ripple effects across the entire AA network.
Piedmont serves around 55 cities across the eastern United States and Canada. The airline operates as many as 400 daily departures on behalf of its parent company American Airlines. Flight attendants are based in Philadephia and Charlotte.
“Flight Attendants kept Piedmont flying through the pandemic. How does management thank us? By offering a ‘deal’ that would mean cuts to our take-home pay,” slammed Keturah Johnson, AFA president for Piedmont.
“We are already paid less than our counterparts at other regional carriers, and far less than mainline flight attendants doing the same work at the American Airlines Group,” Johnson continued.
“Enough is enough. Piedmont Flight Attendants can’t afford to work at Piedmont.”
Flight attendants were left incensed in August when Piedmont offered a new pay deal for pilots that included the opportunity to rake in as much as $180,000 in bonuses alone as part of a campaign to avoid a pilot shortage that could plague other regionals this winter.
In contrast, Piedmont is offering only a small increase in wages of flight attendants that would then be offset by higher health insurance premiums. Contract negotiations have been ongoing for more than three years with little progress.
If a strike goes ahead, AFA says it would use its trademarked CHAOS strategy to wreak disruption across the network. CHAOS stands for ‘Create Havoc Around Our System’ with zero warning given to management as to when strike action will be taken.
To cause maximum uncertainty amongst passengers and airline management, flight attendants could stage a walkout across every single flight or just one.
“Even the disruption of a few flights could threaten operations across the American Airlines Group system,” the union warned on Thursday.
To get to a strike, AFA must first ask the National Mediation Board to declare that negotiations are stalled and allow a 30-day cooling-off period. After that point, AFA could then seek permission to start strike action.
In an emailed statement, a spokesperson for Piedmont told us: “We are dedicated to getting a competitive contract negotiated for our more than 350 Piedmont Flight Attendants.”
“We have the most professional Flight Service professionals in the industry, and Piedmont is a leader in safety and performance because of their efforts. We are in agreement our team members deserve the best contract and we are committed to delivering that to them. We look forward to getting back to negotiations in November.”
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.
With vaccine mandates hitting and this sort of stuff it may be a long winter for air travel.