Flight attendants at American Airlines owe nearly $3 million in unpaid union dues and the situation is so serious that debt collectors are after some crew members. In extreme cases, flight attendants could even be terminated from their jobs.
In an internal union message, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) revealed that the total amount in unpaid union dues had now reached $2.98 million and that nearly one-third of flight attendants were behind in paying their dues.
Nearly all of AA’s 28,000 flight attendants must pay into the union whether they want to be a member and agree with the union’s work or not. The rules differ from some countries where workers get to individually choose if they want to join a union and contractually, a flight attendant could be fired for refusing to pay the union.
In an attempt to get indebted flight attendants to pay up, APFA National treasurer Erik Harris said in a recent memo that AA’s flight attendants were paying some of the lowest union dues in the industry.
In fact, APFA’s dues haven’t risen since 2002 Harris explained. At the same time, flight attendant wages have risen by 14 percent.
The pandemic is likely to have been a big reason why so many flight attendants are now classed by the union as in ‘bad standing’ because many crew members took some form of leave of absence or had their pay and working time reduced.
APFA, however, points out that most of the special leaves of absence offered by AA were negotiated by the union and therefore crew members remain ‘dues obligated’.
In some cases, the union has already sent information on some flight attendants to an outside debt collection agency and if a flight attendant still refuses to pay up, the union could start a formal process of having the crew member terminated from their employment.
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.