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Flight Attendants at Major Regional Airline Skywest Win Boarding Pay as Union Drive Continues

Flight Attendants at Major Regional Airline Skywest Win Boarding Pay as Union Drive Continues

Flight attendants at a major regional airline which operates flights on behalf of Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta and United are to earn boarding pay for the first time as part of a new pay deal unveiled by the carrier.

Skywest is the second major U.S. airline after Delta to announce that it will pay its flight attendants boarding pay. The regional carrier will pay flight attendants a quarter of their normal hourly rate during boarding, whereas Delta flight attendants earn 50 percent of their usual hourly flying pay.

Typically, flight attendants at most U.S. carriers don’t start earning their hourly flight pay until the boarding door is shut and the aircraft has pushed back from the gate, but last April, Delta Air Lines made history when it unexpectedly announced it would become the first major U.S. airline to pay flight attendants during boarding.

The surprise decision came, perhaps coincidentally, just as the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA) made a renewed drive to unionize the Atlanta-based carrier’s flight attendant workforce.

Again, perhaps coincidentally, Skywest’s boarding pay announcement comes as the AFA launches a new effort to unionize Skywest flight attendants.

Delta flight attendants earn approximately $4,000 extra per year in boarding pay, although it’s not known how much a Skywest flight attendant is expected to earn in additional pay.

Any extra earned from boarding pay will be partially offset by Skywest’s decision to rescind a quarterly profit-sharing bonus.

Following Delta’s decision to start paying flight attendants for boarding, flight attendants at several unionized airlines, including Alaska and American Airlines, entered contract negotiations in an attempt to win boarding pay. So far, at least, their efforts have proved unsuccessful.

The Association of Flight Attendants has hit back at critics who claim the union has failed to secure boarding pay for its members, arguing that it negotiated the concept with United just prior to 9/11.

Following that tragedy, the AFA said it was forced to make concessions and abandon the idea of boarding pay. The union claims it then spent the next 20 years fighting to keep contracts steady without making any further concessions.

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