American Flight Attendants Have Retained a Lawyer, Calling for DOJ Investigation Over Their Big Raises

American’s flight attendants threw in with US Airways in its attempt to take over American in bankruptcy.

Both airlines’ flight attendants agreed on a dollar value for their contract as part of that arrangement. In other words, they set a minimum amount that the airline would spend on raises for flight attendants if the merger went through. They’d negotiate a contract, but if negotiations fell through there was an agreed-upon floor.

The increased cost above the separate US Airways and American flight attendant contracts was going to be a minimum of $112 million a year.

American agreed to give spend $193 million a year more on the flight attendants’ contract. However, flight attendants narrowly rejected that contract. Some believed they should get profit sharing too.

But by rejecting the contract, all they were entitled to was the smaller $112 million raise.

Nevertheless, the President of American’s flight attendants’ union asked the airline to give them the full $193 million anyway. And American did.

Many flight attendants weren’t happy, and the President of their union announced her resignation and then sped up her departure last month. She bore the brunt of criticism as being too close to management. One of her cousins is a legacy US Airways executive, now with American. If true, it seems to have benefited her members. But she could no longer manage her rank and file.

Now a group of American flight attendants have retained an attorney and are calling for a Department of Justice investigation of their ‘imposed contract’. (HT: Traveling Better)

The drama with American’s flight attendants still pales in comparison to the America West-US Airways pilot disputes which still haunt the process of getting to a single seniority list at American, of course.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. What a bunch of over-entitled wait-staff-with-wings. They deserve all the opprobrium that will be rightly heaped upon them

  2. Unions continue to poison nearly every industry in which they have a sizable presence. Above everything else we talk about, the biggest reason the US carriers struggle to compete with their Asian and Middle Eastern competitors is the unions that prevent them from providing consistently good service.

  3. This seems counterintuitive. If the flight attendants want less money, it seems that there might be some easier ways to reach that goal. If all else fails, find a charity.

  4. This just demonstrates the problems with unions. I understand why they were created and the good reasons for it, but time and time again we say the labor unions run companies in to the ground by their unreasonable demands.

  5. If I just got finished watching an entire 72 hour montage of late 80’s early 90’s post modern teenage style films featuring Ironman as his little brother or Ducky or Elizabeth Shue and Wynona Ryder, I couldn’t possibly care LESS. More dystopian drama.

    In other words, who really cares at this point? It’s not like they go out of their way.

    In some ways, I can empathize having to work in a tube and I would think that employees should get something. Heck Home Depot and Lowes give you stock options.

    If this is how the people who pretend to be the responsible people running the business treat the people who have to show up every day, no wonder your service sucks.

  6. Oh so now your excuse for having a crappy product is the “Union”? Not buying it .

    For one minute.

  7. It would be fine with me, if all US airlines would dump their current unionized flight attendants and replace them with Illegal Immigrants or Undocumented Immigrants (use the term your prefer). Just retain qualified pilots and maintenance personnel.

  8. The hateful comments here make me wonder about why some other people don’t want flight attendants to have any quality of life, affordable insurance or livable wages.
    Flight attendants are tired and sick from working long hours, crazy schedules, worrying about money and being exposed to the entitled, the crazy, the sick and everything between.
    They saved all the passengers on the flight with the shoe bomber, and other times and go little or no credit.
    The article author also puts a slant on the as the flight attendants agreeing and now back pedaling. Please go to more accurate sources to learn what really happened and Is happening.

  9. @Nancy are you saying that:

    1. All American Airlines flight attendants, including legacy US Airways flight attendants, stopped Richard Reid in 2001?
    1a. If that’s your claim, what is the “right” amount to pay those flight attendants who were not on AA63 on December 22 fourteen years ago?

    2. American’s flight attendants did not agree to the framework out of which an arbitrator determined the most recent amount of raise that was due to them (which American then increased)?
    2a. That American’s flight attendants didn’t agitate for the merger, and declare themselves in favor of it?

  10. Mr.Leff has published one side of the story. This was a ” Sweetheart Contract”, which is Illegal. Flight Attendants never had a chance, which is why the TA was voted down by a “narrow margin” would have been more if all were illegible to vote. Laura Gladding struck deals and signed commitments binding the membership(Laura Gladding has resigned), but secured perks for herself for a lifetime. This merger was signed sealed and delivered before it ever came to the Flight Attendants to vote. The vote was just a puppet show. The membership has questions and has a right to have this whole process investigated.

  11. Plenty of the American Airlines are not supporting this effort. The reality is some of the individuals who have given money to these lawyer are retired. Some are former employees. Some have been terminated. Some are parents of current flight attendants. Some do not have the true conviction and have others pay for them. The majority of American Airlines flight attendants are happy. The majority are grateful. The majority want to continue to work in unity to improve our work environment and conditions. The majority are not swayed by those who have been suspended and have an ax to grind with the company.

  12. I’m going to chime in with Nancy. The ignorant, hate-spewing comments here are disappointing.

    Let’s not overstate the situation. A group of employees, who happen to be union members, is challenging the agreement between American Airlines and the APFA, as is their legal right to do so. None of you has any clue about the issues involved yet that didn’t stop you from taking the opportunity to bash flight attendants. I question your ability to read anything other than far right-wing rhetoric.

  13. edit: to add, it wouldn’t surprise if the most absurd, hateful comments on here were posted by AA c-suite members. I’ve met more than my share over the years and their self-entitled disregard for the common employee is always palpable.

  14. “What a bunch of over-entitled wait-staff-with-wings. They deserve all the opprobrium that will be rightly heaped upon them”
    Ignorance is strong in you.
    Flight attendants are trained in first aid and safety, among other things. They work around hundreds and thousands of disease ridden, bacterial infected and viral infested people – like yourself. Honestly I couldn’t ever do the job, ya know evacuating planes, abnormal schedule and dealing with hundreds of pissy bitches like you.
    – Frequent Flier

  15. American Airlines has some wonderful and not so wonderful flight attendants. For the most part, they come to work and do a good job. It is those few that are constantly complaining in the galley within ear shot of us passengers and yes, even directly to passengers that concern me. We don’t want to hear your problems. We want a good service. I am grateful for all you do. If you are that unhappy, then please, find another job. The pay must not be horrible, as I encounter flight attendants who have been with the airlines for decades. Surely if the pay was bad, they would find another job.

  16. Mr. Leff, it’s completely unnecessary to mock us in your title. Our “big raises” mean nothing (literally nothing, and sometimes even less) when our work rules have hit the bottom of the barrel and our company-offered insurance rates have skyrocketed.

    The vote for our contract was a parody of democracy. They told us we could have “raises” plus To Be Determined (for FIVE YEARS) work rule language, which would put us at the whim of this money-mongering CEO and Board, or we could say no and continue with poor rates of pay and still receive the same work rules. To those who tried to vote it in, you can’t really blame them, because this company could care less about our work group and was going to impose it anyway. At least they would have a LITTLE more in their bank accounts. To those who voted no, they realized that each time we vote yes and then try to improve, at least with American Airlines, it never comes to fruition. Somehow, each time, the company and our sham of a union use the yes not as a sign of us being stuck between a rock and a hard place, but instead as a sign of agreement and enthusiasm. And each contract renewal gets worse.

    As a new hire currently making less than members of my work group with the same seniority did thirty years ago (yes, you read that correctly! Thirty years), I do not apologize for supporting those who are in-tune and passionate enough to pursue righting this situation. It is not brilliant leadership by Doug Parker and Scott Kirby, it is not smart business, it is insulting, and yet another example of corporate America raping and pillaging its workers.

    And for all the passengers who complain about American, these are the same men reducing your service items, service standards, seat room, and overhead bin space. Just in case you thought it was the flight attendants.

  17. @Heather I appreciate the work that flight attendants do every day. There are some great crews at American (and some pretty mediocre ones if you’re being honest).

    The position the flight attendants were in was an American with concessionary contracts coming out of bankruptcy, or a new management offering raises. And there were guaranteed minimum raises. You could negotiate for more, but to do that you have to give up something. American and your leadership agreed to the more. Union members rejected that contract. THE ALTERNATIVE WAS GETTING LESS. That was always the alternative. “Less” was less of a raise, but still more than under American without the merger.

    American kicked in the extra $81 million ANYWAY.

    I’m not saying it’s as much as some might have hoped for, but it’s as much as was ever going to be paid. Your union leadership did not betray you. They got you the best possible deal on the table.

  18. @Mr. Leff,

    I don’t think there was any condescension towards you in particular in my original post, which is why I don’t think yours was quite deserved just now, but I’ll hold my tongue in response. We do have some great crews at American. Thank you.

    The whole point of my original post: BOTH TA OPTIONS MEANT GETTING LESS after “our leadership” had “negotiated” it. For most of us, the raises are null and void after insurance rates rose, much less after other rates of pay were maneuvered in the contract language or work rules were worsened.

    After the TA implementation and the disrespect and disgusting conduct of Laura Glading (and Doug Parker), I have not acknowledged her as my leadership, nor do I think many of my work group do. And I placed “negotiated” in quotations because though you may have somehow been privy to those conversations, we weren’t–even to those conversations solely between members of “our leadership”–and many of us question what was ACTUALLY negotiated. That’s what the entire formation of this case is about.

    If due diligence and an ensuing case prove that everything was above board and was truly negotiation at its finest, and not betray[ing us], as you so poetically put it, I think a lot of us would be pleasantly surprised. All we have to lose is the money we’ve invested.

    Unfortunately, even if it proves everything was above board and was truly negotiation at its finest, due in large part to their future plans for the airline and for our jobs, as well as their words and actions toward us as a work group, I doubt we will still be very happy to fall in behind “our leadership.”

  19. Way to spin a story and make it sound as if the flight attendants were not happy with a raise. The truth is that these numbers were made up by the union and the company but never revealed in the contract itself or verified in any way. The terms of the contract were changed mid vote, and the hole process reeks of collusion. Flight attendants are asking the DOJ to investigate due to back door deals that completed the merger on their expense, providing the worst industry contract riddled with loss of most work rules and benefits. This contract was forced on the work group after being voted down because it ensured the merger. The flight attendants are questioning the legality of it because it doesn’t make sense that 30 years ago they got paid more than they are now, and a bankruptcy contract was worth more. Get your facts straight and don’t cast a shadow on the entire story. Tell it like it is or don’t tell it at all.

  20. I wish the best for AA flight attendants. But this is precisely why most of us at Delta want nothing to with a union and are breathing a huge sigh of relief that we dodged both the AFA and the IAM bullet.

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