The American Airlines Flight Attendants Union Is Cracking Up

The American Airlines flight attendants union has been dysfunctional for years. They sided with Doug Parker in having US Airways management take over the airline. That always seemed like a strange move, because US Airways had toxic labor relations. There was no reason to believe flight attendants would be better off with the airline under new leadership.

All major U.S. carriers went through bankruptcy and gained contract concessions from unions. American was one of those. With the US Airways merger they’d get a more expensive contract. They set a minimum amount that the airline would spend on raises for flight attendants if the merger went through. Flight attendants would negotiate a contract, but if negotiations fell through there was an agreed-upon floor.

They negotiated a contract, gaining about $70 million more than that. 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 raise.

Nevertheless, the President of American’s flight attendants’ union asked the airline to give them the full raise anyway. And American did. Yet she was pushed out for being too close to management. One of her cousins is a legacy US Airways senior executive. Many complaints from flight attendants and their union heads are still put at the feet of Laura Glading.

However leadership changes have occurred and the union is still a basket case. The Vice President of American’s flight attendants union, APFA, argues that the problem isn’t with current officers or overspending – the spending increases (higher pay for union reps!) aren’t their fault, and infighting is all about the larger AFA union trying to sow dissent so they can come take over.

She shared the following on Facebook on Saturday:

RAID from the Inside

Over the past few weeks, I have seen many false allegations floating around social media. It’s important to reach out for the facts. One fact is, APFA is truly in a chaotic state. In fact, “chaos” is the correct term as it’s as if we are being “RAIDED” from the inside!

A former AFA organizer currently sits on our APFA BOD. This BOD member has created chaos within the APFA for 3 administrations. She stirs the different political groups, watches them turn against reps they previously trusted, and sits and watches the internal division unfold. Some BOD members are too interested in “promoting their next candidate” to see what is truly taking place in our union. CHAOS! It’s the “tear down” tactic of one administration to ruin their professional reputations, and in turn, improve the chances of their candidate getting elected. In any event, the irreparable damage is done. And not just to the current National Officers, but to strength of our independent union.

When I was elected, I promised you that my department would fight the company’s violations of our contract, refuse agreements that change our contract without membership ratification, and hold the company’s feet to the fire. We have done just that!

The 3L & R Team ran on ending the divisiveness. Our President, Lori Bassani reached out to each Base President during our June 2018 transition for recommendations on Department Chairs. Her appointments brought union experience from LUS, experience from the Ross administration, “New Blood”, and experience from other administrations. We welcomed all who wanted to be a part of their union. The Base Presidents commended and approved of Lori’s choices. But within 8 months, these same Base Presidents began making demands to “switch out” some of these appointments with their friends. When we would not give in to these childish demands, they began the most shameful display of harassment to run some of these appointments out of office. True high-school… mean-girl mentality. Does this sound familiar? Absolutely, as this was done to 3 appointments under the Ross Administration.

So this is where the CHAOS began…..

• The AFA organizer/PHL Base President begins the division

• Shortly after we took office, AFA President, Sara Nelson is suddenly making public statements that include information discussed on our weekly confidential BOD/EC Calls and internal email

• AFA President Sara Nelson plants the seed of a merger with the media

• PHL is rallying the BOD to vote NOT to enter into early openers – the unwritten rule is unions don’t raid other union while in negotiations.

• Lori takes us into Early Openers-Negotiations, and the pressure from AFA lessens

• The former President/VP, Nena Martin comes back to the BOD as Base President with a score to settle, and the PHL Base President who literally ran her out of office in the National Officer election, becomes her collaborator

• The PHL Base President then begins working the BOD – she plays on Nena’s hatred for the current administration and the members who voted her out of office.

• Nena and her former elected STL Base president who gave her trip removals for her move in addition to her 1-month transition pay per policy, began whispering support for AFA

• The Base Presidents that ran her out of office, promised her moving expenses of $10,000 against policy while proffering an exit package in lieu of a “vote of no confidence” to the former President. This is the Base President’s way of getting rid of the officers the membership has elect as the constitution does not allow the BOD to remove without calling another election.

• The BOD fears revenge due to their treatment of Nena and proves their loyalty by creating CHAOS with the current administration.

• We provided transparency as provided in our constitution, the BOD threatens violations

• We became aware of gross miscalculations of payouts the former National Officers made to themselves, and we called a meeting of the BOD. With almost no discussion after the presentation, the BOD deferred the issue several months to the next BOD Meeting.

• The BOD was only interested the President’s recent decision to eliminate a position for cost cuts. They violated the constitution and reversed her decision.

• The President called another BOD meeting to address the gross miscalculations totaling near $14,000 as members had begun contacting the DOL. While the BOD publicly demanded the repayment of these funds after reviewing undisputable facts, they have privately allowed delays and spoken against repayment.

• The Base President’s began to stir rumors of “rampant spending” at APFA Headquarters, and leaked out their own emails to plant the seeds. By the way this was the day after National Officers Elections – Willingness to Serve were announced to the membership.

• They call a BOD Meeting to present/pass resolutions claiming negligence and “no confident” in our administration, while voting “NO” on 14 cost saving resolutions.

• The BOD felt empowered but ignored the damage. “Ignorance is bliss” as they spank the current administration and open the door for AFA.

• PHL and CLT Base Presidents have teamed up to create more CHAOS

• We’ve been made aware that AFA’s Sara Nelson is now planning a trip to CLT in the next couple of weeks to talk to our APFA members with the help of the AFA mobilizers in CLT.

• Our Base Presidents fear tactic of financial instability was intended to hurt the current National Officers should we choose to run again, yet they have simply weakened our position as an independent union.

• They set the stage for over-spending.

• They cut the arbitration budget by 50% – equivalent to 1.5 arbitrations after 7 Presidential Arbitrations were scheduled, continued to initiate more grievances with processing timelines, were witnesses in arbitrations, commended the team on the fight at arbitrations, yet claimed irresponsibility of going over budget. It is actually the irresponsibility of the Base Presidents by cutting the budget that allows us to fight the company’s violations for our members. Perhaps they should have eliminated the $66,000 electronic expense programming for APFA Reps to file electronic expenses and other unnecessary costs. NOT the arbitration budget.

• These are the same adults that demand resignations of Officers elected by the membership and provide exit packages to appoint their friends

• One fact in the swirling rumors is that dues have not increased since 2001, yet our costs have increased quite a bit. In 2014, our pay increases began the imbalance. The Base Presidents lack of attention over the past 5 years showed gross negligence. The 110-hour bid max that came in with PBS earlier this year accelerated costs. We absolutely need to make necessary cuts, but it is not due to overspending of the current administration. Again, these Base Presidents have hurt our position as an independent and opened the door for AFA by alleging financial instability for political purposes.

• These are actions that are reckless

The majority of the Base Presidents are succeeding at raiding us from the inside. For some Base Presidents it’s very calculated. For other Base Presidents it’s vengeance. Combined, it’s promoting a merge with AFA. Per our constitution, the final control of APFA shall be vested in the membership. Let your Base President hear from you. Your dues should be spent to serve you…..not to serve their politics.

Our team took office 17 months ago and began following through on our promises. And we have accomplished a lot for our members in that very short time. We have actually been told by some Base Presidents that “our demise was bringing in union reps from different political factions instead of only those in our political camp”. The true demise of this administration is the Base Presidents that are raiding our union.

Rest assured, we won’t be bought out by these Base President! We will stay the course and continue to fight for the stability of our union and for our members throughout the remainder of our term.

In Unity,
Liz Geiss
APFA National Vice-President

There was also the following:

The battling between American’s independent APFA union and the stalking horse of the national AFA reminds me of Monty Python’s Life of Brian. They’ve seemed to have forgotten they’re supposed to be fighting the Romans (American Airlines management).

The union needs to be building a war chest for its negotiations. Instead they’re cutting costs like accounting systems that allow for electronic expense reports. They’re keeping higher union leadership pay. And they won’t go to the membership for a dues increase – fearing that would put them out on the streets.

In the meantime American’s outside labor negotiator Jerry Glass is salivating.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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 »

More articles by Gary Leff »

Comments

  1. I would be all for unions if it weren’t for them having paid positions of power like a Fortune 500 company. It’s absolutely ridiculous they try to bestow this image of looking out for the hard working little guy, and yet in the end all they EVER care about is dues and power. Make them volunteer organizations akin to HOAs and then we’d really see how interested these “leaders” are about negotiating for a better workplace.

  2. I thought you had to at least have a High School diploma to be a FA.

    This reads like the FA leadership is still *in* high school.

    Wonder who they have for home room?

  3. The inability to communicate succinctly is indicative of a lost mind. Both Megan and Liz should not be in ANY leadership roles. Nobody will bother to ATTEMPT to understand their viewpoint. If that is how they act during negotiations, no wonder they are where they are.

  4. Meanwhile Delta FAs have more money, less BS, no union and they’re [obviously] happier. Union apologists can feel free to believe this is a giant coincidence.

  5. @Justin-

    The problem being that AA isn’t the only airline with a union, but nobody gets to fly Southwest and drink Krug, so nobody cares that they’ve done fine with unions.

    It might just be corporate culture, and AA’s sucks.

  6. @eponymous coward – I’ve written that Southwest has done fine with its flight attendants union, but also fires more of its bottom-performing union members…

  7. Gary quit posting about things you have ZERO clue about and frankly aren’t germane to your “give me everything for nothing” over-entitled flock.

    Is there not a new Hyatt property in Qatar you can post about?

  8. Just more bs from apfa. We need a real union .That offers real representation and in bed with AA management. We need AFA or the teamsters .Even the the Girl Scouts of America would do a better jon

  9. This Union has done nothing but trample the very Flight Attendants they represent . They have stolen money and paid themselves to an excess . Now we are broke and no one is going after the Board Members that owe the Union money . I was a Union President for over 36 years this is an atrocity to the membership

  10. @Josh G – Looks like we found the APFA rep!

    In this day-and-age of anti-unionism, it’s really astonishing to see unions like the APFA continue the stereotypical trash that unions nationwide have become associated with. It’s ESPECIALLY bad when looking at competitors with happier union members (ie WN), or who are non-union (like DL).

    What unique value does the APFA provide to AA FA’s that the AFA would not provide? From an overall union perspective, having a single, larger, stronger AFA union would lead to better negotiating power for everyone.

  11. @Josh G – once again you’re back without offering anything of substance to your critiques. As I’ve said many times before, it’s childish to shout “I disagree, you’re wrong!” without offering a single reason why.

  12. Gary the reason why is this is none of your business and clearly over your head, that’s why you are wrong.

    I’m anti-union myself and wish the railway labor act removed the closed shop (mandatory dues) requirement.

    At least APFA is not part of the AFL-CIO and members directly elect leadership unlike AFA which is looped in with the AFL-CIO and elects leaders by delegates.

    Gary why don’t you post about BankDirect issuing 1099s?

  13. Love @Josh G’s illogical and circular reasoning, “the reason why is this is none of your business and clearly over your head, that’s why you are wrong” what kind of an argument is that?

  14. You are so WRONG about the USAirways situation. We had a much better company and a much better union. Shame on you.

  15. This is no surprise, the local union for Cary reservations went into receivership because of corruption. Sad that in all the union insanity the home based agents were left unprotected with BS representation. They arent even allowing the rdu local home based agents to transfer to the Cary office now that they’re facing the entire homebased program being cut. I’m thankful to no longer be paying union dues and funding to the mAAyhem.

  16. Josh G, Unions got you much. vacation pay, 40 hour work weeks, overtime, sick leave plus much much more. . Shut the hell up dude.

  17. What can I say? Unions suck.

    Anyone who takes a job where he/she has to join a union deserves the consequences. Entirely predictable.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *