American Airlines Flight Attendants Turn Up the Heat <


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American Airlines Flight Attendants Turn Up the Heat

By Mike Mitchell

February 26, 2010 - Determined to achieve a contract, American Airlines Flight Attendants will turn up the heat on the airline with a series of activities as they begin five days of “lockdown” negotiations with American Airlines at the National Mediation Board (NMB) in Washington on Saturday, February 27.

The Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) and American have been mired in contract negotiations for more than 21 months with little movement on key issues. The company continues to put contracts on the table that increase the more than $2 billion in concessions Flight Attendants have given up since 2003. If no agreement is reached during this session, APFA will ask the NMB to initiate a 30-day cooling-off period – the final step before employees can resort to job actions under the Railway Labor Act.

“We still believe we can achieve a deal and we remain committed to the process,” said APFA President Laura Glading. “However, the process includes the responsibility of both sides to bargain fairly. The company simply has not lived up to its part of the bargain. Unless there is a dramatic change, we are poised to do whatever is necessary to get a contract Flight Attendants deserve.”


To show their support for union negotiators and put pressure on the company to reach an agreement that improves their wages, benefits and working conditions, Flight Attendants will engage in the following activities:

All Systems Red - Flight Attendants nationwide will wear a red disk with the words “Got Guts” beginning February 26th, the day before negotiations resume. No travel on American Airlines flights will be disrupted by the Flight Attendants.

“My Negotiating Team Speaks for Me” – Rejecting management’s attempts to negotiate directly with Flight Attendants through publications and emails, Flight Attendants are sending the correspondences back to management with the words “My Negotiating Team Speaks for Me.”

AA Executive Email Campaign - Flight Attendants will email American Airlines CEO Gerard Arpey and other top executives asking them to invest in their most important asset – frontline employees.

Among the key outstanding issues in negotiations have been compensation and work rules. The company continues to say any new contract must be ‘Zero Sum’, meaning any improvement in wages, vacation or any other benefit be offset by a concession of equal value. “The company needs to abandon their ‘Zero Sum’ strategy. The industry outlook is brighter for 2010 and the oneworld anti-trust approval and Japan Airlines deal strengthen American’s future viability and economic competitiveness,” said Glading. “Now management needs to invest in their hard-working employees. It’s time to put proposals on the table that improve Flight Attendant wages, benefits and working conditions.”


The company claims American’s Flight Attendants are among the highest paid in the industry. The industry standard measure of productivity and cost is “cost per available seat mile” (CASM), but American is using “expense per hour,” which artificially inflates American’s Flight Attendants’ cost. 

CASM for American’s domestic operation is very competitive with other airlines. Any higher international CASM arises in large part from American's marketing decision to have, unlike its competitors, three-class service. With these higher service levels, American realizes the highest international passenger revenue per ASM in the industry.

When American Airlines found itself in financial trouble back in 2003, the Flight Attendants bailed out the company with significant concessions to keep the company out of bankruptcy, providing $340 million annually in cost savings. Since then, the Flight Attendants’ benefits and pay have shrunk by 33 percent. In this six-year span the airline’s top five executives have taken bonuses averaging $11.4 million, more than 2,500 times the average amount received by a Flight Attendant.

“It’s clear management has the financial resources to negotiate a ratifiable agreement,” said Glading. “We’ve worked hard to narrow the outstanding issues in these negotiations. With this round of talks, it’s time for the company to put some real money on the table so we can reach an agreement that recognizes the sacrifices and hard work of Flight Attendants.” APFA is the nation's largest independent Flight Attendant union representing nearly 18,000 American Airlines Flight Attendants.

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