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  • American Airlines offers pay bump as flight attendant union opens strike center
    Updated On: Jun 158, 2024

    American Airlines flight attendants opened a strike center, signaling strife amid ongoing contract negotiations, while the Fort Worth-based airline offered an immediate wage increase to reach a deal.

    The Association of Professional Flight Attendants, which represents American’s over 27,000 flight attendants, announced Wednesday that it opened a strike command center at its union headquarters in Euless.

    Shortly after, a video message from American CEO Robert Isom was sent to flight attendants stating that a proposal was delivered to the union offering an immediate wage increase of 17% and a new formula to increase 2024 profit sharing among the workers.

    If the union agrees, he said, the increase would be effective for the June bid month and increased rates would be shown in pay on June 30.

    “We’re committed to paying all of our team members well and competitively,” Isom told shareholders at an annual meeting on Wednesday.

    Meanwhile, union advocates will staff the center to answer questions from members, produce written materials in the event of a strike and more. Flight attendants at American are the final major workgroup among North Texas airline unions yet to reach a new contract after many became amendable before the pandemic.

    “We are definitely trying to get a deal done,” said Julie Hedrick, president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants this week. She added, “We’re going to hold our CEO to his word when he said that we will be an industry-leading [in] wages.”

    Isom was also asked on Wednesday about the flight attendants’ contract during the annual meeting with shareholders.

    “Our last remaining open agreement is with our flight attendants, and our plan assumes we reach a deal in 2024,” he said. “We remain in active negotiations with our flight attendants, and we’re working to get a deal as quickly as possible.”

    Strike centers and strike authorization votes are often plays among unions in bargaining to place pressure on companies to get a deal to the finish.

    Last year, when Southwest Airlines’ pilots represented by the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association were trying to get a contract, the union opened a regional strike center at its headquarters in Dallas. The center opened on Nov. 8. A contract was announced on Dec. 19 and ratified early this year.

    The Association of Professional Flight Attendants plans to bargain with the company, alongside the National Mediation Board in Washington, D.C., next week as “one more attempt” at a deal, Hedrick said.

    Many steps must be met for federal regulators to release a union from mediation and strike.

    Flight attendants at American have requested such a release but remain in negotiations. The release, if allowed, would trigger a 30-day cooling off period, where parties can reach an agreement one last time. At the end of 30 days, without an agreement, an airline union would be allowed to strike and companies can lock out employees.

    Union officials said every one of American’s 10 crew bases for flight attendants have trained representatives to answer questions.

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