The union which represents flight attendants at American Airlines say they will ask a federal agency for permission to go on strike unless the Dallas Fort Worth-based airline makes a “substantial movement” towards meeting its demands in long-running contract talks that include a demand for a 50% pay rise.
On Tuesday, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) told its members that it was growing weary of AA’s apparent “delay tactics” after the airline failed to address its demands for bumper pay rises.
The airline and union are currently going through a federal mediation process in an attempt to break the deadlock on a number of key contract areas, and APFA would have to demonstrate that the negotiation process had completely broken down before flight attendants are allowed to go on strike.
In August, AA flight attendants voted overwhelmingly in favor of strike action, with 99.47% of participating crew members saying they would back a walkout if APFA were unable to break an impasse with the airline.
However, under the terms of the Railway Labor Act (which also governs airline contracts), the union must get permission from the National Mediation Board to be released into a 30-day cooling-off period.
If the cooling-off period is approved, at the end of the 30 days, flight attendants would be allowed to go on strike.
APFA says it will convene a meeting of its board of directors immediately following the next federal mediation session with AA management, which is scheduled to take place in Phoenix on November 17.
If the union’s leadership doesn’t see a dramatic change in AA’s stance, they’ll seek the all-important release to a 30-day cooling-off period. If approved, and it’s a big ‘if’, American Airlines could see major disruption during the holiday travel season.
In an internal memo, APFA said it was deliberately waiting until November 17 in order to give AA more time to improve its offer and prove to the National Mediation Board that it wasn’t rushing into the decision.
“If they don’t have a proposal, we have a deadline, and failure to meet that deadline will result in a request to be released,” the union said in the memo. “We cannot and will not allow the company to use excuses to delay our desperately needed increases. That is why we have set this firm deadline,” the memo continued.
Earlier this month, APFA said it was demanding a 50% pay rise for its members over the course of a four-year contract. American Airlines has so far offered a 19% pay rise over the same contract length.
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.