Pay demands take off | Strike looms for American Airlines as union rejects 17% pay rise

Strike looms for American Airlines as union rejects 17% pay rise

The labor union representing American Airlines flight attendants has rejected a company proposal to immediately raise pay by 17%, heightening the likelihood of a strike.

This decision is the latest in the ongoing challenges in contract negotiations between the airline and the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, who have not received a contract raise since before the pandemic.

On Wednesday, CEO Robert Isom offered the flight attendants a 17% wage increase in a bid to break the deadlock in the negotiations.

"So, to get you more money now, we presented APFA with a proposal that offers immediate wage increases of 17% and a new formula that would increase your profit sharing," Isom stated in a video message to the flight attendants.

He emphasized that the offer was made without demanding any concessions from the union, calling the move "unusual" but reflective of the current unique circumstances.

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Despite this, the union stood firm, insisting that the airline's proposal fell short of addressing their long-term needs.

Julie Hedrick, the union’s national president, criticized the offer, stating, "This is not that," and emphasized the need for a more comprehensive, long-term agreement.

The two parties are set to meet with federal mediators next week for what is being described as a "last-ditch" effort to reach an agreement. Should these talks fail, the process for a potential strike would begin, with a federal mediator’s release process taking several weeks.

Historically, airline strikes are rare, with the last one occurring in 2010 among Spirit Airlines pilots.

In preparation for a possible strike, the union has established a “strike command center” equipped with dedicated phone lines and other resources to support the cabin crew. This move underscores the union's serious stance as contract talks continue to stall.

The tension is drawing attention beyond the airline industry. Last month, a bipartisan group of more than 160 House representatives urged the National Mediation Board to assist in finalizing deals between airlines and flight attendants.

While U.S. airline pilots secured new labor deals last year, flight attendants at American, United Airlines, and Alaska Airlines are still in negotiations.

Isom acknowledged the progress made in various key areas but conceded that significant work remains.

"We have made progress in a number of key areas, but there is still a good deal of work to be done," he said, reflecting the broader sense of urgency and unresolved issues within the negotiations.

As both sides brace for next week's mediated talks, the looming threat of a strike hangs over American Airlines, with potential disruptions that could impact countless passengers and the broader airline industry.

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