US mediators decline APFA request, preventing year-end strike by American Airlines flight attendants
(MENAFN) Federal mediators have declined a request from the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) that could have paved the way for a potential year-end strike by flight attendants at American Airlines. The National Mediation Board has directed both the airline and the union to continue negotiations on a new contract rather than allowing a strike to proceed. Despite this setback, American Airlines expressed a commitment to ongoing negotiations, aiming to reach an agreement with the flight attendants.
APFA President Julie Hedrick, while acknowledging the disappointment, emphasized that the union is not stepping back and intends to intensify pressure on the company. Hedrick criticized American Airlines for prolonging the bargaining process with contract proposals that, in the union's view, do not adequately address the current economic conditions. Flight attendants, who have not received raises since 2019, previously voted to authorize a strike and staged protests outside American's headquarters.
The primary contention revolves around wage increases. The union is seeking a substantial raise of 35 percent, followed by two yearly increases of 6 percent. In contrast, American Airlines is proposing an immediate raise of 11 percent upfront, coupled with annual increases of 2 percent. The airline argues that its proposal to pay flight attendants during boarding would effectively increase the initial raise to around 18 percent. American is also suggesting a policy to match Delta's decision last year to pay flight attendants during boarding.
In the airline and railroad industries, federal laws impose various obstacles that make it challenging for union workers to go on strike. One key hurdle involves obtaining a declaration of an impasse in negotiations from federal mediators, initiating a 30-day "cooling-off" period before a strike can potentially occur. The ongoing labor dispute reflects the broader tensions within the aviation sector as workers seek improved compensation amid economic uncertainties.
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