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American Airlines Flight Attendant Union Opens Strike Command Center as ‘Last Ditch’ Talks to Reach New Contract Near

American Airlines Flight Attendant Union Opens Strike Command Center as ‘Last Ditch’ Talks to Reach New Contract Near

a group of people in red shirts sitting at a long table with laptops

The American Airlines flight attendant union has opened a Strike Command Center in preparation for a potential walkout this summer as ‘last ditch’ talks to avert an impasse in contract talks near.

The Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) opened the command center just days after telling tens of thousands of its members to start preparing for a strike after two weeks of intensive negotiations in Washington DC failed to break a deadlock in pay talks.

A flight attendant walkout has to be approved by the National Mediation Board, an independent US government agency that oversees labor relations in the railroad and airline industries under the provisions of the Railway Labor Act.

The NMB has been reluctant to release AA’s flight attendants into a 30-day cooling-off period after which a strike can take place, but APFA is increasingly confident that unless the airline improves its current offer, the NMB will capitulate to its demand to go on strike.

One of the major sticking points is AA’s refusal to offer retro pay, as flight attendants at the Fort Worth-based carrier haven’t seen a pay raise since 2019, when their contract became amendable.

Although there are signs that the two sides could be close to reaching a deal, APFA says it will not accept a new contract unless the airline offers retro pay.

Just because APFA is opening a strike command center doesn’t mean a strike will actually go ahead. Last year, the Southwest Airlines pilots union opened its first-ever strike headquarters but ended up reaching a deal with the airline just a few short weeks later without calling a strike.

Matt’s take

American Airlines is likely to see APFA’s latest move as just another tactic in ongoing negotiations, although as airline contract talks go, this is probably the closest we’ve seen any flight attendant or pilot workgroup going on strike in a long time.

It’s pretty clear that relations between flight attendants at American Airlines and their employer are at an nadir and many crew members would relish the opportunity to show their managers exactly how they feel by taking part in a bruising walkout.

There is, of course, still time for the two sides to reach a compromise, although if next week’s talks in Washington DC fail to break the current deadlock, the NMB will be left with very little wiggle room to demand even more negotiations.

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