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American Airlines flight attendants vote 'yes' on strike authorization

A large group of people hold up signs saying "Ready To Strike" outside an airport terminal.
Toluwani Osibamowo
/
KERA News
Members of the American Airlines flight attendants union celebrate a strike authorization vote outside Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport on Aug. 30, 2023.

American Airlines flight attendants voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike amid ongoing negotiations with the Fort Worth-based carrier, the union announced Wednesday.

Out of more than 26,000 members, 99.4% of workers voted to authorize the strike. That gives leaders with the Association of Professional Flight Attendants the OK to call the strike later this year if contract talks come to a standstill.

The news came during informational pickets across the country, including at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport where union members held signs saying "Ready To Strike" and "More Work Less Pay: It's The AA Way."

"We should work for a company that values us, not a company that makes us fight for a contract," Julie Hedrick, APFA national president, said at the picket.

A woman in a blue flight attendants uniform stands behind a microphone with a group of people holding signs behind her outside of an airport.
Toluwani Osibamowo
/
KERA News
Association of Professional Flight Attendants National President Julie Hedrick announces the result of a strike authorization vote outside of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport on Aug. 30, 2023. Of the more-than-26,000 union members, 99.4% voted to authorize a strike if they can't reach a deal with the carrier.

Flight attendants have been in negotiations with American Airlines since 2018 and haven't had a pay raise since 2019, said APFA National Treasurer Erik Harris.

He said the airline still hasn't given workers the contract terms they've asked for regarding salary proposals and scheduling flexibility.

"These frontline workers are the ones that are making them these billions of dollars, and they deserve their fair share,” Harris said. “We deserve a contract that pays us what we deserve.”

In an emailed statement, the airline said the two sides were making progress, and that negotiators were looking forward to reaching an agreement with the workers.

"We understand that a strike authorization vote is one of the important ways flight attendants express their desire to get a deal done," the company wrote. "The results don’t change our commitment or distract us from working expeditiously to reach an agreement."

Similar pickets took place at the statehouse in Boston, Charlotte/Douglas International, Washington National, NYC-LaGuardia, Orlando International, Miami International, Las Vegas Harry Reid International, Philadelphia International, Chicago/ O’Hare International, and the machinists union lodge in Phoenix, according to the flight attendants union.

Any potential strike would still would still need to clear procedural hurdles. Both sides would first have to bring the dispute before the National Mediation Board.

Last week, American Airlines pilots agreed to a new tentative four-year contract that would give the union's 15,000 pilots a 21% raise on average along with a 401(k) contribution increase and annual pay rate increases.

Southwest Airlines pilots will also host a nationwide picket Thursday as contract negotiations with the Dallas-based carrier continue to stall.

It's been four weeks since the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association's request to be released from negotiations with the Dallas-based carrier was denied.

Got a tip? Email Toluwani Osibamowo at tosibamowo@kera.org. You can follow Toluwani on Twitter @tosibamowo.

KERA News is made possible through the generosity of our members. If you find this reporting valuable, consider making a tax-deductible gift today. Thank you.

Toluwani Osibamowo is a general assignments reporter for KERA. She previously worked as a news intern for Texas Tech Public Media and copy editor for Texas Tech University’s student newspaper, The Daily Toreador, before graduating with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She is originally from Plano.