American Airlines flight attendants request permission to strike as holiday travel rush nears

American Airways flight attendants are asking federal officers for the precise to go on strike, probably earlier than the top of the Christmas and New Yr’s journey rush, however American mentioned there was “no chance” of a walkout over the vacations.

Leaders of the flight attendants’ union say they’re pissed off with the dearth of progress in negotiations over a brand new contract for staff who haven’t seen raises since 2019.

The Affiliation of Skilled Flight Attendants petitioned the Nationwide Mediation Board on Monday to declare the negotiations deadlocked and provides the union permission to strike after a 30-day “cooling-off interval.”

In the meantime, pilots at Southwest opened a “strike middle” in Dallas this week. Officers with the Southwest Airways Pilots Affiliation say they too will ask for the precise to strike if they do not have a contract take care of the airline within the subsequent few days.

A digital clock on the wall on the pilots’ union headquarters ticked down towards a possible strike on December 29.

It’s removed from sure that both union will go on strike, nonetheless. Federal regulation makes it very onerous for airline staff to stroll off the job or for carriers to lock out staff.

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Strikes and lockouts are authorized provided that federal mediators take the uncommon step of declaring that negotiations are at an deadlock and that both facet could resort to “self assist.” Even then, the president or Congress can block a strike that may harm the economic system.

The final strike by a U.S. airline union befell in 2010, involving pilots at Spirit Airways.

American disputed the flight attendants’ union declare that negotiations are stalemated. In a press release, the airline mentioned that for months it has been providing the union an “industry-leading financial proposal,” and progress continues on different contract gadgets.

The airline, which relies in Fort Value, mentioned it is able to proceed working with the union and the Nationwide Mediation Board to succeed in an settlement.

American added that there’s “no chance” of a strike over Thanksgiving or the December holidays.

The flight attendants’ union is asking American for quick raises of 35% after which annual will increase of 6% below a 3-year deal. American is providing 11% upfront however says it is 18% together with larger pay throughout the time that passengers board planes, adopted by annual will increase of two%. The union additionally needs greater 401(okay) contributions and elevated relaxation time.

AA pilots win raises 

American’s pilots recently won raises of greater than 40% over 4 years.

“We positively do not feel any equality right here,” mentioned Erik Harris, treasurer of the flight attendants’ union. “How come the pilots have gotten their deal and we have not?”

Pilot unions have been in a very sturdy place due to a scarcity that’s being felt most keenly at smaller carriers. Pilots at American rejected a suggestion final November. They reached one other settlement in late July, which was renegotiated once more to match a greater deal for pilots at United Airways. Pilots at Delta Air Traces additionally received large pay raises this 12 months.

Due to sample bargaining, Southwest pilots are more likely to wind up with raises like these accredited for American Airways pilots. The union at Southwest is asking for barely larger pay than Boeing 737 pilots at different airways, arguing that Southwest makes use of its planes — and pilots — longer per day on common.

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Southwest pilots poised to comply with

A significant stumbling block at Southwest is over pilot scheduling. The union needs Southwest to pay pilots a premium to function flights that lack a crew as an alternative of staffing these flights with pilots who’re on reserve, or maintain.

The Southwest pilots’ union has already tried and failed as soon as this 12 months to get permission to strike. The union asked federal officers in June to launch the group from mediation, however mediators refused. One other bargaining session is scheduled for the final week in November, however none after that.

“No one right here needs to strike,” mentioned Tom Nekouei, the union’s second vp, “however we both want a deal by the thirtieth or we have to go down this path.”

Airline unions are having fun with leverage to get large pay raises as a result of a growth in journey is lifting airline income. Texas-based American earned $1.3 billion within the second quarter alone, helped by sturdy ticket gross sales, report income, and a drop within the worth of jet gas.

Dallas-based Southwest issued a press release saying that negotiations had been persevering with and it’ll work for a contract “that rewards our pilots and locations them competitively within the {industry}.”

Leaders of each the American flight attendants and Southwest pilots say they’re inspired by advances made by different unions this 12 months.

The United Auto Staff received wealthy new contracts after a six-week strike, and display screen and TV writers and actors received higher compensation for streaming content material and different concessions after strikes that crippled Hollywood for months. The Teamsters received hefty pay raises for greater than 300,000 United Parcel Service staff by threatening to strike. Union organizing is on the rise.

On Thursday, a number of dozen American Airways flight attendants picketed alongside a thoroughfare outdoors firm headquarters in Texas, some carrying indicators studying, “Able to strike.” Drivers in every part from sedans to gravel haulers honked in help.

“This provides me hope,” mentioned Harris, the union official, “but additionally seeing what’s taking place on the market in labor worldwide is giving us all hope.”

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