The union that represents American Airlines flight attendants is preparing for a strike this holiday season as it continues to negotiate a new deal with the carrier.
The Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) this week set a Nov. 17, 2023 deadline for progress to be made in negotiations with American. If, by then, the two sides are still at a standstill, the APFA will meet to request the National Mediation Board (NMB) release the AFPA from the mediation process, which would allow it to strike after a 30-day cooling-off period.
If that goes to plan without delay, that would mean that 26,000 American flight attendants would be able to strike, which close to 100% of members have already voted to authorize in August, starting on Dec. 17 during the busy holiday period.
“Time's up. At last week's negotiations session, negotiators for American Airlines showed up with no response to our comprehensive economic and non-economic packages," said Julie Hedrick, National President of APFA and Los Angeles-based Flight Attendant. “Our Flight Attendants have overwhelmingly authorized a strike, and we will move the process forward and prepare for a strike if necessary."
The AFPA is seeing a bump in pay, along with an improvement in vacation, sick time, and retirement benefits. It is also seeing a return to pre-COVID staffing levels.
AFPA members are planning on picketing system-wide on Nov. 16, one day before the deadline, “to remind management of our contributions and sacrifices to help American weather the pandemic.”
"The ball is firmly in management's court," said National President Hedrick. "If American Airlines management has no change in position, simply put that in writing so we can move the process forward. If they don't have a proposal, we have a deadline, and failure to meet that deadline will result in a request to the NMB to be released."
The American strike is another in a string of strikes that have impacted the travel industry this year. Currently, the Southwest pilots union is working to reach its own new contract with that airline. Federal mediators now overseeing negotiations under the Railway Labor Act (RLA) expect that Southwest Airlines and the Southwest Airline Pilots Association (SWAPA) will reach an agreement by Nov. 30.