Wednesday, March 03, 2010

No deal: Contract talks end between American Airlines and flight attendants

by B .N. Sullivan

APFA logoContract negotiations between American Airlines and the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) ended this evening. The two parties did not reach an agreement. Officers of the APFA, which represents American Airlines flight attendants, now say they will contact the National Mediation Board (NMB) "to schedule a meeting to request a release into a thirty-day cooling off period, at the end of which, APFA can choose to engage in a strike or other forms of self-help."

According to the union:
At 6:30 pm ET, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) gave the company a realistic proposal that addressed the Flight Attendants' needs and the company's concerns. Rather than take any time to consider this offer, the Company exited the room informing APFA that it would not be in position to make a counter-proposal this evening.
But the company said:
APFA's current proposal would cost the company hundreds of millions of dollars over the life of their proposed six and a half - year contract, which would keep our labor costs at an uncompetitive level in relation to other carriers. This is an economic reality the company has asked APFA to recognize so both sides can work out an agreement that will allow the airline to compete successfully and provide competitive pay and benefits and a good career for its employees.
In their dueling statements to the press, each side expressed a willingness to continue to negotiate, however no new dates for talks were mentioned.

“APFA remains prepared to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement, but it is clear, now more than ever, that the company does not share the same interest,” APFA President Laura Glading said. “Delay only serves the company. Each day without a new agreement equals another million dollars in the pocket of American.

“The company’s actions speak loudly. When the bargaining party that sits across the table does not want to reach an agreement, that leaves the other party with no recourse other than to move to the next step,” Glading continued. “We have exhausted all of our options and will now meet with our Board this weekend to move forward with the balloting of the membership for a strike vote.”

Meanwhile, American Airlines did post a new counter-offer on the Web site this evening: Company Counter Comprehensive Package Proposal – Flight Attendants Version 4.0 (9-page 'pdf' file).