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Flight Attendants Get Support for Strike from U.S. Senators

As American Airlines’ flight attendants are threatening to strike, their efforts are gaining support from a group of U.S. senators.
With members of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (AFPA) preparing for a strike, their walkout plans are getting support from a group of legislators.

 

In an open letter to the National Mediation Board, 22 senators are asking the members to “use all the tools at your disposal,” including releasing the parties from mediation to allow the AFPA to formally walk off the job.

 

Lawmakers Encourage Allowing Flight Attendants to Formally Strike

In the two-page letter signed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Chuck Shumer (D-NY), the group recognizes the work being done by the National Mediation Board to resolve labor differences between unions and employers. Under the Railway Labor Act, transportation workers – including flight attendants – must attempt to settle their contract negotiations with the help of the board. If they cannot, it is up to the board entirely if the union can be released to strike.

 

Since 2023, the APFA have requested releases from negotiations to formally strike. However, the board continually denies their efforts to walk off the job, forcing them to continue to go in front of the mediation board. After the APFA opened their formal strike command center on June 5, 2024, the senators are now getting involved and asking the National Mediation Board to allow additional actions.

 

“Earlier this year, tens of thousands of flight attendants around the world rallied to demand fair contracts from six airlines,” the letter reads. “These workers were on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic and were instrumental in saving the airline industry from collapse, but now, in some cases, find themselves working for pre-pandemic wage levels. They deserve better.”

 

Citing the last flight attendant strike in 2006, the group of lawmakers say airlines are using the endless negotiation to their advantage in delaying coming to a contract agreement. To those ends, the senators say the board should consider everything available – including releasing flight attendants to strike – to move towards a contract resolution.

 

“We are concerned that this fact has contributed to the present pattern of unending negotiations and that many carriers are taking advantage of the situation,” the letter reads. “Therefore, we join with our 178 colleagues in the House to urge the Board to use all of the tools at your disposal, including releasing parties from mediation as necessary, to resolve these longpending contract negotiations.”

 

Although the APFA has opened a strike command center and continue to hold informational pickets across the country, it is unclear when the union last requested a release from their negotiations. American Airlines has not issued a statement about the letter or ongoing contract issues.

 

Stay up to date with American Airlines and a potential strike on the FlyerTalk forums.