Three separate unions representing flight attendants at major U.S. airlines are holding pickets and rallies at 30 airports on Tuesday to demand new contracts and higher wages.
Flight attendants are growing frustrated that pilots got huge pay raises last year while they continue to work for salaries that in some cases haven’t increased in several years.
They claim they were not compensated for working during the pandemic and being responsible for passenger safety.
Unions are calling Tuesday’s protests a national day of action. It’s not a strike.
Federal law makes it difficult for airline unions to carry out legal strikes, which can be delayed or blocked by federal mediators, the president and Congress. Mediators have already rejected a request from American Airlines flight attendants to start a countdown to a strike; the union plans to ask again next month.
“We value and respect our flight attendants’ right to picket and understand that this is their way of telling us the importance of closing a contract – and we hear them,” American Airlines said in a statement Tuesday.
Flight attendants remain the last group at the negotiating table with the Forth Worth, Texas-based airline. Pilots for American Airlinesagreement in August providing for significant salary increases and bonuses. Shortly after, in December, American reached an agreement with about 15,000 passenger service agents, the Dallas Morning News reported at the time.
Tuesday’s protests were organized by the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), which represents crews for United Airlines and several other carriers; the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, American’s crew union, and the Transport Workers Union, which represents crews at Southwest and other airlines.
United Airlines said in a statement Tuesday that its first negotiating session had been scheduled for March 19 by a federal mediator requested by the AFA. “We look forward to working with the AFA to reduce the issues so that we can continue to work towards an industry-leading agreement for our flight attendants,” the company said.
Alaska Airlines said its executives and the AFA continue to negotiate and meet with a mediator, calling the discussions “productive,” in a statement released Tuesday. “With six employment contracts recently concluded within the company and an agreement in principle reached in January for a new contract for our technicians, we hope to do the same for our flight attendants as soon as possible,” the airline said .
Southwest Airlines said in a statement released Tuesday: “We reached an industry-leading agreement in principle with TWU 556 in October 2023 and plan to meet next week with the union and the National Mediation Council to continue to work towards an agreement that benefits our flight attendants. and the southwest.”
Transport Workers Union Local 556, the union representing Southwest Airlines flight attendants,a proposed contractual agreement by the airline in December.
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