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Sun, Sep 03, 2023

American Airlines Flight Attendants Vote to Authorize Strike

AAL Cabin Crews Without Pay Increases Since 2019

American Airlines (AAL) Flight Attendants are demanding a new contract comprising long-sought pay and quality-of-life improvements.

On 30 August 2023, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA)—the labor union by which American Airlines flight attendants are represented—reported that upwards of 99-percent of American’s 26,000-plus flight attendants voted to authorize union leaders to call for a strike. The move, which puts tremendous pressure on the airlines’ management to affect a more accommodating negotiating tenor, precedes the busy holiday travel season.

Union President Julie Hedrick opined the strike authorization vote serves to inform management that American flight attendants—who’ve not received pay increases since 2019—are “fired up.”

“We’re pushing back and we’re fighting corporate greed, and corporate greed is alive here at American Airlines,” Hedrick remarked before warning airline executives that they “ignore the strike vote at their peril.”

In a statement pertaining to the strike authorization vote, American Airlines equivocated: “We’re proud of the progress we’ve made in negotiations with the APFA, and we look forward to reaching an agreement that provides our flight attendants with real and meaningful value. We understand that a strike authorization vote is one of the important ways flight attendants express their desire to get a deal done.”

The vote neither heralds nor implies an imminent flight attendant strike. The convoluted regulatory constructs within which Part 121 labor contracts are hammered-out spell out with pedantic specificity that the authorization of a strike is the first in a long and complex succession of ritualized supplications that must be made prior to an actual work stoppage.

The Railway Labor Act of 1926, to which the airline industry is beholden, prohibits pilots and other workers deemed essential to national transportation infrastructure from walking off their jobs until federal mediators—soulless, dead-eyed bureaucrats called in at the 11th hour for purpose of salting inactivity with idiocy—confirm the two opposing sides of a labor dispute have arrived at an impasse beyond foreseeable resolution.

The strike authorization vote turned in by American’s flight attendants doesn’t guarantee a labor stoppage; rather, it demonstrates the workers’ collective resolve to strike at APFA’s directive to do so. The threat of a strike—and the compounding tragedies of lost revenue, public acrimony, and customer desertion precipitated thereby—is intended to succeed where negotiation and mediation often fail.

On 21 August 2023, American Airlines pilots represented by the Allied Pilots Association (APA) ratified a four-year contract with the air-carrier. The agreement earned American’s 15,000 pilots approximately $9-billion worth of compensation and quality-of-life benefits. Flight attendants are unlikely to be granted such a boon as they, unlike qualified pilots, are in plentiful supply.



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