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American Airlines Flight Attendants in ‘Intensive Mediation’ to Reach Contract Deal Potentially By the Memorial Day Weekend

American Airlines Flight Attendants in ‘Intensive Mediation’ to Reach Contract Deal Potentially By the Memorial Day Weekend

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The union which represents flight attendants at American Airlines says it welcomes recent developments in contract negotiations with the Fort Worth-based carrier as months of stalled talks appear to show signs of steady progress.

The Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) has just wrapped up three weeks of intensive negotiations with the airline in Dallas Fort Worth in an attempt to win a big pay raise for tens of thousands of crew members.

Following the conclusion of the talks, the union is sounding a much more optimistic tone in the progress of negotiations, although APFA warns that there is still “difficult bargaining” to come in the next round of bargaining.

The talks are being mediated by the National Mediation Board (NMB) under the provisions of the Railway Labor Act. The NMB gets the final say on whether negotiations have reached an impasse, which would then lead to a 30-day cooling-off period and a potential strike.

The NMB has been reluctant to make that determination, and after rejecting APFA’s first request to be released into a 30-day cooling-off period late last year, the board has sat on a second request for several months.

In the meantime, federal mediators have ordered APFA and the airline to redouble their efforts to reach an amicable agreement.

Flight attendants at American Airlines haven’t received a pay raise since 2019, when their contract became amendable, so the pressure is on to reach an ‘industry-leading’ pay deal.

On Wednesday, the union said progress continues to be made in other areas of the contract, but key economic issues remain open.

“We are focused on working through these issues but are also one hundred percent ready to keep fighting as long as it takes to reach a deal,” the union said in an internal memo.

Further talks have already been scheduled in the lead-up to the Memorial Day weekend in an attempt to close out the final remaining areas of the contract that are still open.

The union and its members have been buoyed by the recent success of their peers at Southwest Airlines to win big pay raises, as well as retroactive pay awards. This win puts pressure on American Airlines to increase their offer of an 11% pay raise but no retro-pay.

Last week, AA flight attendants picketed the White House in protest at how hard it is for airline workers to go on strike. The threshold for the NMB to release workers to go on strike appears to be set so high as to make it almost impossible for a release to strike to be authorized.

Although the NMB is an independent body, its members are appointed by the President, and it’s understood that political considerations are very much factored into whether to allow airline workers to go on strike.

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