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Flight Attendant Union Rejects American Airlines’ Immediate Raise Offer

On Wednesday, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) union, which represents around 27,000 flight attendants at American Airlines, rejected a company proposal of an immediate 17% raise.  


Following three weeks of stalled talks in Dallas Fort-Worth and then another two weeks of mediation in Washington, D.C., American CEO Robert Isom offered flight attendants this week immediate 17% wage increases in a bid to prevent strike action. 


APFA have told American Airlines flight attendants to prepare for a strike.

Faltering talks in D.C. pushed APFA to send out a message last Friday, telling its dues-paying members to “prepare for a strike”. 


The union released another statement this Wednesday, saying that they are opening APFA’s Strike Command Centre (SCC).  


APFA state that the SCC will be “a resource to prepare us for potential strike actions.” 

They are also providing a strike handbook for flight attendants. A digital copy will be available and a physical handbook will be mailed out.  


The airline and union have struggled to reach a new contract agreement, regularly coming to an impasse in talks moderated by the National Mediation Board (NMB). This has been an ongoing issue since unionized flight attendants voted in favor of strike authorization back in August 2023.  


Meanwhile, American Airlines flight attendants have not seen a raise since 2019 – pre the COVID-19 pandemic. In comparison, their peers at Delta Air Lines and Southwest are enjoying industry leading pay packages – the former enjoying multiple raises over the same period, while the latter recently obtained a new contract.  


“We have made progress in a number of key areas, but there is still a good deal of work to be done,” claimed American Airlines CEO Robert Isom in a video message to flight attendants. 


Meanwhile, APFA says the two sides are scheduled to meet once more with federal mediators next week for a “last-ditch” attempt to get a deal over the line, while instructing flight attendants to prepare for a strike. 


APFA released a statement on Wednesday to announce the opening of their Strike Command Centre (SCC).

Strikes are particularly rare in the airline industry. The last occurred in 2010 among Spirit Airlines pilots.  

 

If union and carrier cannot reach a deal, federal mediators will eventually release the union into a 30-day cooling-off period. This period is necessary before striking according to the Railway Labor Act, which governs flight attendant and pilot unions. 

 

It is, therefore, particularly difficult for a union to enact strike action, even if they pressurize for that outcome.  

 

Robert Isom said to American flight attendants on Wednesday, “to get you more money now, we presented APFA with a proposal that offers immediate wage increases of 17% and a new formula that would increase your profit sharing. This means we’ve offered increased pay for all flight attendants and are not asking your union for anything in return. This is unusual, but these are unusual times.” 

 

Julie Hedrick, APFA’s national president, responded that the airline’s focus should be on preparing a longer-term deal with the flight attendants. 

 

“This is not that,” she said. 

 

Tensions remain high. With no clear way out of stalemate, it is difficult to see where this will end. 

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