Hundreds of American Airlines regional flight attendants vote to strike, but walkout still distant


24 Oct, 2021

Flight attendants say 10-year veterans only make about $28,000 a year at Piedmont Airlines.

Flight attendants at one of American Airlines’ regional carriers voted unanimously to strike, setting up a showdown with the company over wages and benefits even though an actual walkout is still a distant possibility.

Piedmont employees represented by the Association of Flight Attendants have spent the last three years trying to negotiate a new contract with claims that starting flight attendants make less than $17,000 a year and 10-year veterans make only $28,000 a year. The union said those talks stalled after the company offered a new contract with small pay increases and higher health premiums. Flight attendants would earn less under the proposed contract when pay and premiums are taken together, according to the union.
About 75% of the company’s 350 flight attendants participated in the strike vote.
Piedmont Airlines, a wholly-owned subsidiary of American Airlines, is based in Salisbury, Md., and is a key regional carrier that flies under the American Eagle flag.
“We are already paid less than our counterparts at other regional carriers, and far less than mainline flight attendants doing the same work at the American Airlines Group,” said AFA Piedmont president Keturah Johnson in a statement.

Flight attendants and other airline workers are prohibited from striking by federal rules until they are given permission to do so by federal labor regulators. AFA members participated Thursday in informational pickets at Philadelphia International Airport.
It would still be months or longer before flight attendants at Piedmont could actually walk off the job and disrupt the company’s flight operations. Airline employees and unions are under complex federal rules and workers must get permission from the National Mediation Board before being allowed to strike.

To do that, the union would need to prove to the mediation board that negotiations are at an impasse. The board could call for a 30-day “cooling-off period” before leading to a strike deadline.

In a statement, Piedmont said it’s still working toward “getting a competitive contract.”

“We are in agreement our team members deserve the best contract and we are committed to delivering that to them,” Piedmont said in a statement. “We look forward to getting back to negotiations in November.”

“We’ve seen in the last few months how delicate the aviation system is, and how much it depends on every worker,” said AFA International President Sara Nelson in a statement. “Piedmont Flight Attendants want a fair deal, but if it takes a strike, we’ve got their backs across the industry.”

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