Friday, October 29, 2010

AirTran flight attendants file for mediation of contract negotiations

by B. N. Sullivan

AirTran Airways logoThe flight attendants at AirTran Airways have filed with the National Mediation Board (NMB) for mediation of contract negotiations. After more than three years of talks, the flight attendants' union believes that their  negotiations with AirTran management have reached an impasse.  AirTran flight attendants are represented by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA).

A press statement issued by the AFA explains:
Southwest Airlines recently announced its intention to acquire AirTran.  Although the ownership of AirTran is about to change, this does not negate the carrier’s obligation to negotiate with its flight attendants in good faith.

“It is an interesting marriage,” said Alison Head, AFA-CWA AirTran President.  “I was surprised by all the characterizations of AirTran as ‘employee-centric’ because we have certainly not witnessed that.  For over three years, AFA-CWA has tried to work with management on negotiating a contract that adequately reflects the work and dedication we continue to provide to this airline.”

Following the announcement of the acquisition by Southwest, AirTran management approached AFA-CWA requesting an abbreviated list of the flight attendants’ greatest concerns in order to expedite negotiations.  When presented with the union’s “short list” proposal, the company responded with a counterproposal consisting mostly of existing contract language and minimal pay increases.   In addition, they failed to address the most basic work, duty and rest provisions.

“Management’s failure to effectively manage resources and respect the quality-of-life issues are at the heart of our contract demands,” stated Head.   “Just last Friday, Mr. Fornaro asserted that he ‘would like to enter into the relationship with Southwest with everything buttoned up.’  Obviously, the company is not committed to getting an agreement with its flight attendants.  AirTran flight attendants want a contract and will not sit idly by watching management drag this process on any longer.  The flight attendants’ contribution to the success of this airline cannot be ignored.”
Meanwhile, AirTran pilots announced several days ago that they had reached a tentative contract agreement with the airline's management.  A ratification vote on the pilot contract is expected to take place next month.