American Airlines and US Airways officially merged in 2013 in an $11 billion deal, though fully integrating the two different carriers has taken years. Notably, its flight attendant workforce has remained split between the different pre-merger groups, with the target of September 2018 for completion.
Members of American Airlines‘ flight attendant union picketed outside of the company’s Fort Worth headquarters on Thursday, August 30, calling for better working conditions and policies.
Lori Bassani, the president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, the union that represents over 26,000 flight attendants at American, told Dallas News, “Our flight attendants are really frustrated beyond belief. They have endured many monumental changes.”
Among these changes is the final full integration of the flight attendant workforce from American Airlines and US Airways. Though the two carriers merged five years ago, it has taken this long to finish standardizing policies, scheduling, and payroll between the two divisions of flight attendants.
Bassani states that several policy changes have been for the worse in terms of worker quality of life, including a “punitive” sick leave policy and staff over-scheduling. The union is also fighting for a replacement to the uniforms instituted in 2016, since almost 5,000 flight attendants have reported health issues like skin rashes and shortness of breath linked to the uniforms. While American has promised to phase out the uniforms by 2020, the union wants the transition to happen more quickly for the health of its workers.
The union is picketing, Bassani says, to call attention to “the gravity of what our flight attendants are working under. Our members are suffering, and we need some relief and we need it immediately.”
Kristen Foster issued a statement for American, stating that the airline respects the union’s “right to voice their opinions, and we will continue to work closely with [the union] to address their concerns and to get through this integration as quickly as possible.”