The union which represents tens of thousands of flight attendants at American Airlines has deferred making a request to be allowed to go on strike following a meeting last week in Florida with federal mediators and the airline.
Labor relations for airline workers are managed under the Railway Labor Act, and flight attendants aren’t permitted to go on strike unless they get permission from the National Mediation Board (NMB).
The Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) had suggested it could request a release to strike if the airline didn’t improve upon its pay offer that has already been outright rejected by the union.
Despite making some progress on an unrelated issue during the meeting in Tampa, the airline did not present a new and improved pay offer. The union has slammed the situation as “unacceptable”, but it will hold off requesting the right to go on strike.
APFA originally requested a release into a 30-day cooling-off period, which precedes strike action on November 20, but it took the NMB little more than a week to reject the request.
The NMB did not give the union a reason for refusing to release them into a cooling-off period, suggesting that federal mediators believe that the two sides aren’t at an impasse and that further negotiating sessions would be helpful.
“After our next bargaining session, we will assess whether to reiterate our request to be released into a thirty-day cooling-off period so we can exercise our right to strike,” the union said on Monday.
The next bargaining session is scheduled to take place from January 9 to January 11, 2024.
“Some may say, why don’t we send in a letter now? But we are not looking for another quick no; we are looking for a changed answer,” the union sent in a memo to flight attendants.
“The Board is looking for the negotiations to be at an impasse and that the parties have exhausted every avenue to reach an agreement prior to releasing us to strike,” the memo explained. “However, if management is unwilling to provide a new economic proposal, then we should be able to exercise our right to strike.”
Union leaders fear the Railway Labor Act has made it too difficult for airline workers to ever go on strike and are now even talking about lobbying to get the law changed.
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.