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American Airlines CEO Makes Direct Appeal to Flight Attendants With Offer of Immediate 17% Pay Raise

American Airlines CEO Makes Direct Appeal to Flight Attendants With Offer of Immediate 17% Pay Raise

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The CEO of American Airlines has made a direct appeal to disgruntled flight attendants with the offer of an immediate 17% pay raise, separate from gruelling contract talks, so long as the flight attendant union accepts the offer.

Robert Isom shared a video message with the airline’s 23,000-strong flight attendant workforce on Wednesday detailing the offer, and the transcript was also shared with a number of news organisations.

Along with the 17% pay raise, the proposal included a new formula to increase profit-sharing payouts. In 2023, AA flight attendants received a profit share of just 1.1%, whereas their peers at United and Delta Air Lines received a profit share of 9.1% and approximately 10.3%, respectively.

Isom presented the proposal as a benevolent offer to immediately address pay issues while wider contract talks with the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) drag on.

In the video, Isom said: “The company and APFA negotiating teams have been meeting regularly for months to reach a new agreement. We have made progress in a number of key areas, but there’s still a good deal of work to be done”.

“We will be back at the table with APFA leadership next week and a deal is within reach, but I don’t know how long it will take to get to the finish line and I don’t want another day to go by without increasing your pay”.

Promising that the offer came with no strings attached, Isom continued: “This is unusual. But these are unusual times.”

“Importantly, this does not replace our commitment to getting the deal done as soon as possible but gives each of you an increase in pay now”.

The pay offer matches what Delta Air Lines flight attendants are paid – viewed as the very upper limit of what AA is willing to pay its flight attendants. It does not, however, include retroactive pay which the flight attendant union is demanding.

The issue of retro pay could be included in wider contract talks, with the airline and union set to meet in Washington DC next week for what has been described as ‘last ditch’ talks.

The two sides have been in negotiations since 2019 to reach an updated contract but they remain far apart on a number of key issues, including pay and scheduling changes.

On Wednesday, APFA said it was open to discussing Isom’s proposal but told flight attendants that it feared the offer was little more than a PR move after flight attendants were warned to prepare for a strike.

Separately, the union also announced that it had opened a Strike Command Center should next week’s negotiations with the airline fail to break the current deadlock. At that point, APFA is hopeful that the National Mediation Board will declare an impasse, releasing the two sides into a 30-day cooling-off period after which strike action can take place.

Matt’s take

Rather than viewing Isom’s proposal as a benevolent offer, the union no doubt sees this as a cynical ploy to yet again delay contract negotiations and give the NMB a good excuse to refuse APFA’s request to be released to strike.

APFA has accused AA of delaying contract talks on a number of occasions, so this certainly isn’t new territory, especially given the fact that talks have dragged on for the past five years.

Nonetheless, with an end to this dispute not yet in sight, this offer addresses one of the biggest concerns for flight attendants and will have to be seriously considered by the union rather than being summarily rejected.

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