NPR for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
ALERT: KERA News 90.1 is performing essential tower maintenance which may disrupt our over-the-air signal between July 12-14. Click here for the KERA News stream, or listen on our app or smart speakers with no disruption. Thanks for your patience!

Flight Attendants Put Airlines On Notice

By Shelley Kofler, KERA News

Dallas –
Fifteen years ago this week, American Airlines passengers were grounded after flight attendants went on strike. Attendants marked the date Tuesday with another picket line. KERA's Shelley Kofler reports contract negotiations are an issue again.

There was a sense of deja vu as American Airlines flight attendants chose the 15th anniversary of their strike to march symbolically in front of DFW's Terminal C chanting, "We want a contract."

Flight Attendants: What do we want? Contract. When do we want it? Now.

Diana Dunn: We are here to tell management we are still unified and still willing to take the ultimate step if that is what they force us to do.

Diana Dunn is a contract negotiator who says her union members are stewing.

Five years ago when American faced bankruptcy its 18,000 flight attendants agreed to an average 15 percent pay cut, less vacation time and increased work hours per day.

Dunn says that while flight attendants have received a 1.5 percent annual pay increase since 2003, executives have done much better.

Dunn: They have continued each year to increase their compensation each year and all of the unions on this property have taken pay cuts.

She claims the airline is trying to drag its heels on a new contract.

Dunn: I do think it's a tactic everyday they don't reach an agreement is money saved under that restructuring agreement.

American's Tami McLallen says that's nonsense.

McLallen: We've been meeting very regularly at the table we've been exchanging proposals.

As for the always contentious issue of compensation, McLallen says American's flight attendants have it relatively good.

McLallen: Our flight attendants are among the highest compensated across the industry they are one of just two airlines who have active pension programs continental being the other one all the other airlines have either frozen or terminated those plans

McLallen says the picketing and posturing is very premature. Negotiations take time.

But flight attendants have already set a date for action. They want this deal wrapped up by May 1. If it isn't they claim they'll do more than remember their 1993 walkout, they'll re-stage it. Just as summer travelers begin to pack their bags.

Shelley Kofler KERA news.