American Airlines flight attendants owe about $3 million in unpaid union dues, and the situation is so dire that debt collectors are pursuing some of the crew members. Flight attendants’ jobs may be terminated in exceptional circumstances.
The Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) reported in an internal union communication that the total amount of unpaid union dues had now reached $2.98 million, and nearly one-third of flight attendants were behind on their dues.
Whether they choose to be a member and agree with the union’s work or not, nearly all of AA’s 28,000 flight attendants must pay into the union. The rules differ from those in several other nations, where workers can choose whether or not to join a union, and where a flight attendant might be dismissed for refusing to pay the union.
In an attempt to persuade indebted flight attendants to pay up, APFA National Treasurer Erik Harris recently stated in a document that AA’s flight attendants pay some of the lowest union dues in the business.
In fact, according to Harris, APFA dues haven’t increased since 2002. At the same time, flight attendant pay has increased by 14%.
Because many crew members took some sort of leave of absence or had their salary and working hours reduced, the pandemic is likely to have been a major factor in why so many flight attendants are now classified as ‘poor standing’ by the union.
The APFA, on the other hand, points out that the majority of the extraordinary leaves of absence provided by AA were negotiated by the union, and hence crew members are still compelled to pay dues.
The union has already provided information about some flight attendants to an independent debt collection firm in some circumstances, and if a flight attendant still refuses to pay, the union may initiate a legal process to have the crew member fired.