Friday, December 19, 2008

American Airlines and flight attendant union ask for mediation of contract talks

APFA logoAmerican Airlines and its flight attendants' union have jointly filed a request for mediation of their contract talks by the U.S. National Mediation Board (NMB). The flight attendants, represented by the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (AFPA), have been in negotiations with the airline since May of this year. So far, the talks have yielded progress only on minor issues.

The flight attendants are seeking to recover pay and benefit cuts they agreed to in 2003 to help American avoid bankruptcy. According to the union, pay and benefits for American's flight attendants have been reduced by 25 percent and their workload has increased by 47 percent (the most of any airline), meaning less time with their families.

Union officials say that APFA decided to file for mediation when it was reported the final contract offer on the table from AMR, the American Airlines parent company, to the Transport Workers Union (TWU) -- the union representing ground workers at American -- had no guaranteed structural pay raises, substantial increases for contributions for retiree health benefits and the elimination of virtually all retirement benefits for new hires. TWU filed for NMB mediation earlier this week, separately from the flight attendants. Federally mediated contract talks between American and its piolots, union also are underway

In a statement to the press, APFA President Laura Glading said, "There is no way Flight Attendants will agree to a contract with no significant pay raises for almost 10 years, and at the same time that AMR’s top executives continue to reward themselves with huge bonuses -- $336 million over the past three years. This is just not acceptable. Flight Attendants have made difficult sacrifices to keep this airline flying and deserve a fair and just contract. We will not consider further concessions.

"We recognize the impact the economic downturn has had on the airline industry, just as we recognize the positive effect of falling jet fuel prices," Glading continued. "The company is refusing to recognize the commitment, dedication, and sacrifices Flight Attendants have made for this airline."