Strike action by flight attendants at an American Airlines wholly-owned subsidiary was averted after the Association of Flight Attendants advised that substantial wage increases’ be granted as part of a tentative deal (AFA-CWA).
In an unusual election last October, Piedmont Airlines flight attendants decisively voted in support of strike action.
If the national mediation board approves strike action, the flight attendant union has threatened to unleash “chaos” across the American Airlines network.
American Eagle regional flights are operated by Piedmont Airlines on behalf of American Airlines, with the majority of its operations being in the eastern United States. Piedmont serves more than 50 cities with approximately 400 daily departures.
Prior to the strike vote, contract negotiations had been deadlocked for years. The airline had offered a minor wage raise, but the union said that this would have been offset by increasing health insurance premiums. Regional flight attendants are paid far less than their mainline counterparts.
If the strike had gone ahead, AFA planned to interrupt the network with its trademarked CHAOS technique. CHAOS stands for ‘Create Havoc Around Our System,’ and management is given no advance notice of when strike action will be launched.
Aircraft attendants might conduct a walkout on every flight or just one to create maximum doubt among passengers and airline management.
“Credible strike threats work,” commented the national president of the union, Sara Nelson after the tentative agreement was announced.
Strikes by airline employees must be sanctioned by the national mediation board, and airlines have been assured that no presidential administration will tolerate interruption to the nation’s crucial aviation infrastructure.
Nelson, on the other hand, feels that President Biden’s victory influenced a shift in negotiation approach since Piedmont recognized that a strike might be allowed to proceed.
The strike vote “changed dynamics at the bargaining table almost immediately” said the union in a statement.
The contract’s details are being kept under wraps until they are examined by Piedmont’s flight attendants, who will vote on whether or not to accept it.
The proposed deal, according to the union, would guarantee “significant wage increases, no changes to their high-quality healthcare program, and substantive work rule modifications.”