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Flight Attendants at American Airlines File For Mediation in Stalled Contract Talks After ‘Substantive Disagreements’ Emerge

Flight Attendants at American Airlines File For Mediation in Stalled Contract Talks After ‘Substantive Disagreements’ Emerge

airplanes parked on a runway

The union that represents more than 23,000 flight attendants at American Airlines has officially filed for federal mediation in stalled contract talks with the Dallas Fort Worth-based carrier after the two sides hit an impasse in a number of critical areas.

The Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) said on Friday that it had asked the National Mediation Board to assign a mediator in a bid to break the deadlock with management at American Airlines.

Photo by LM Otero/AP/Shutterstock

An American Airlines spokesperson said it “welcomed” the development. In a statement, the airline said it hope the mediation process would help the “maintain the positive momentum” in contract talks.

The NMB is a federal agency charged with supervising negotiations in the airline and rail industries as governed by the Railway Labor Act. It is up to the NMB to set the time and location of negotiations.

The federal mediator helps to facilitate discussions but cannot force either side to compromise in deadlocked talks.

APFA said on Friday that it intended to continue negotiations in other areas while the two sides waited for the mediation process to begin. Early next week, the union intends to present its proposals for wage improvements, including boarding pay, to the company.

“This proposal, along with the remaining unresolved issues, will provide the basis for the remainder of the contract talks,” the union said in a statement.

Last week, the union warned its members not to engage in so-called ‘self-help’ action in protest at the state of the lengthy negotiations. The warning was issued after it emerged that some flight attendants were unofficially working to rule, providing minimum levels of service to customers, or even refusing to perform some duties altogether.

Although the Railway Labor Act has provisions for self-help tactics and strike action, the independent NMB must authorize this action only after mediation attempts have failed and both sides have exhausted a 30-day cooling-off period.

Self-help without specific authorization from the NMB is illegal.

Issues that the two sides remain at loggerheads on include sick leave provisions, scheduling agreement and the use of reserve duties.

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