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American Airlines Flight Attendant Strike Action Averted After New Contract is Proposed

American Airlines Flight Attendant Strike Action Averted After New Contract is Proposed

an American Eagle regional jet seen taking off through clouds

Strike action by flight attendants at a wholly-owned subsidiary of American Airlines has been averted after ‘substantial wage increases’ were offered as part of a tentative agreement that has been recommended by the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA).

Flight attendants at Piedmont Airlines overwhelmingly voted in favor of strike action in an unprecedented ballot last October. The flight attendant union had vowed to cause ‘chaos’ across the American Airlines network if strike action was approved by the national mediation board.

Piedmont Airlines operates American Eagle regional flights on behalf of American Airlines with the majority of its operations concentrated in the eastern United States. Piedmont operates nearly 400 daily departures and serves more than 50 cities.

Contract negotiations had been stalled for years leading up to the strike vote. The airline had been offering a modest wage increase but these gains would have been offset by higher health insurance premiums the union claimed. Regional flight attendants are typically paid substantially less than their mainline peers.

If a strike had gone ahead, AFA planned to 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.

“Credible strike threats work,” commented the national president of the union, Sara Nelson after the tentative agreement was announced.

Strike action by airline workers has to be approved by the national mediation board and airlines have previously been reassured that no Presidential administration would allow disruption to the nation’s critical aviation infrastructure.

Nelson, however, believes the election of President Biden contributed to a change in negotiating strategy because Piedmont realized that a strike might be allowed to go ahead.

The strike vote “changed dynamics at the bargaining table almost immediately” said the union in a statement.

Details of the contract are being kept under wraps until they have been seen by Piedmont’s flight attendants who will be balloted on whether they accept the deal. The union said the proposed contract would provide “substantial wage increases, no cuts to their high-quality healthcare program, and meaningful work rule improvements”.

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