American Airlines Strike To Be Averted? Flight Attendants Union Says Progress Made On A Deal

An interesting turn of events in the battle between American Airlines and its labor occurred when the APFA claimed that progress had been made in contract negotiations, averting a strike that could ground them.

The standoff began on January 1, 2019, when the last wage adjustment took place; now flight attendants are fighting for better salaries that have already been eroded by inflation for over four years. It has gotten to a point in Boston where first- and second-year flight attendants would qualify for food stamps—a clear cry for wage increments.

The union had previously said it would strike during the 2022 Christmas holidays if an agreement was not reached, a move that would have left thousands of travellers stranded and dealt a serious blow to the airline. With the continuous talks, both parties have warmed up a bit towards reaching an agreement.

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Only recently, American Airlines offered a pay increase of 17% as a stopgap offer during negotiations, setting a new floor for bargaining. To the surprise of many, the union rejected the offer to maintain pressure on the airline for an agreement with overall better terms.

Fearing a recurrence of the hostile relations that have brought crippling strikes to the industries and particularly sensitive to the prospect of a nationwide airline strike occurring prior to a presidential election, the National Mediation Board has been actively involved. That would yank a big enough section of seat capacity from the domestic market to send airfares skyrocketing.

It has been swayed by recent developments taking place at competing airlines. The push given by Delta Air Lines to its in-flight attendants and the new agreement at Southwest Airlines have put pressure on the American Airline management to come up with a better bargaining position.

The stakes are high, with the threat of a cooling-off period — which delays any potential strike by 30 days — hanging over proceedings if an impasse is declared. This could put the President in an awkward position of choosing to support the unions, a vital part of his base, or standing behind passengers, voters, potentially delaying any strike with a Presidential Emergency Board.

The parent union of United Airlines has loaned American’s union its chief negotiator, notwithstanding it is also negotiating with the company for the past three years. This means that United is hoping for an agreement that American will have with the company to be the latest industry standard in its bargaining sessions.

The negotiation progresses on both sides, there is an effort to reach an agreement that takes care of two major things: the first one involves modifying salary scales while the other will potentially compensate employees for loss of earnings for four and half years ever since the previous covenant became subject to any amendments.

As summer travel nears, with millions of passenger planes hanging in the balance, all eyes turn to American Airlines and its flight attendants working toward a resolution that may remake the airline industry labour landscape.

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