Flight Attendants at American Airlines will not be allowed to go on strike over the busy Christmas holidays and must continue negotiations with the Fort Worth-based airline in an attempt to break a deadlock in stalled contract talks, the National Mediation Board has ruled.
The independent government agency has told the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA), which represents crew members at American Airlines, that they will not be allowed to enter a 30-day cooling-off period, which would then allow them to go on strike.
The union had formally requested permission to enter into the cooling-off period just over a week ago after disagreeing with the airline over a proposed pay rise. A decision from the NMB hadn’t, however, been expected so soon.
Julie Hedrick, president of APFA, slammed the ruling, saying in a memo to her members: “We strongly disagree with this decision… The Railway Labor Act (RLA) is supposed to protect us, yet here we are, fighting tooth and nail for what we rightfully deserve.”
Hedrick says American Airlines has been “stonewalling” the union in pay negotiations and has not responded to its proposals.
“American Airlines management thinks they can evade the issue, but they are mistaken,” Hedrick said. “For far too long, airline management has exploited workers, funnelling profits into their own pockets.”
The industrial rights of flight attendants are protected by managed under the Railway Labor Act, but Hedrick claims this law has “been twisted into a tool for corporate greed.”
In the last 20 years, the NMB has only released airline workers on two occasions to go on strike, although Hedrick says her union will again request a release to strike on December 14 if American Airlines fails to provide a ‘realistic’ pay proposal during a federally mediated negotiating session.
American Airlines has proposed an 11% pay rise spread over a four year contract which would bring the pay levels of flight attendants at the airline in line with their peers at Delta.
The union has, however, demanded a pay rise closer to 50% 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.