American Airlines flight attendants have been working towards a new contract since before the pandemic. The union says they’re far apart, and that they have filed for federal mediation. That’s the first step towards a strike.
- Under the Railway Labor Act, a union first has to engage in mediation, then be released from mediation after the process is deemed to have failed, and then go through a 30 day ‘cooling off period’ prior to striking.
- They’d also need a strike vote of their membership, though that is usually forthcoming – they promise that a strike vote doesn’t mean a strike, it’s just a threat to get the company’s attention, but it is also a step closer to actually striking.
One a federal mediator is assigned they will set the schedule for contract negotiations. This is not arbitration – they have no power to decide any of the terms of an agreement.
Ironically, the flight attendants union, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, tells their members that they’ll continue bargaining even while waiting for the media because discussions with the company has been “productive” and they have “worked through many issues.”
APFA will present our comprehensive economic proposal to the company on March 7th. This proposal, along with the remaining unresolved issues, will provide the basis for the remainder of the contract talks.
A strike remain far off, but got one step closer. Meanwhile, American Airlines has open negotiations with its pilots – that has predated the pandemic as well – while it signed a new deal with mechanics , negotiated just before the start of the pandemic, after that work group decimated the carrier’s operations during summer 2019.
The mechanics engaged in an illegal job action, working-to-rule and refusing overtime, in order to hamper the ability of American to fly. A court got involved to enjoin the action. Flight attendants are being told not to engage in a work action on their own – I flew in January where a flight attendant instruction other crewmembers to “work to rule” because of “contract negotiations.”