American Airlines and Flight Attendants Must Continue Talks

Federal mediators reject American Airlines flight attendant union's bid to pursue a strike.

depiction of people in an airport terminal
(Image credit: iStock/Getty Images Plus)

The National Mediation Board (NMB) has denied the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) union's request to be released from negotiations with American Airlines, a move that sends both parties back to the negotiating table.

The union made a filing with the NMB in April and cannot strike until the NMB releases it from mediation and following a 30-day cooling off period.

The NMB’s next mediation session with American Airlines and the APFA is scheduled for December 12 to 14. If a “realistic” proposal is not provided by American Airlines, the APFA said it will issue another request to be released from the negotiations.

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The APFA, which represents more than 26,000 American Airline flight attendants, is seeking wage increases and other provisions including boarding pay and improvements to its 401(k) plan and profit sharing benefits.

AFPA National President Julie Hedrick recently told Kiplinger in an emailed statement that the union will intensify its pressure on the airline.

“Rather than do the right thing for the flight attendants, American Airlines is attempting to drag out bargaining with inferior contract proposals while their employees suffer,” Hedrick said. “For far too long, airline management has exploited workers, funneling profits into their own pockets, as recently evidenced by American management's recent bonus and incentive program, which excluded their frontline workers.”

An American Airlines spokesperson said in an emailed statement that the company looks forward "to continued negotiations with APFA and reaching an agreement our flight attendants have earned."

In talks since December 2019

The APFA has been in negotiations with American Airlines since its contract became amendable in December 2019. The union is seeking wage increases and other provisions, including boarding pay and improvements to its 401(k) plan and profit sharing benefits.

In August, members of the APFA cast a nearly unanimous vote to authorize a strike should their ongoing contract negotiations with the airline’s management break down. The vote is an important step because it allows the union’s negotiations team to “return to the bargaining table with a clear message to management that American Airlines flight attendants are fired up and ready for our contract,” the APFA said at the time.

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Joey Solitro

Joey Solitro is a freelance financial journalist at Kiplinger with more than a decade of experience. A longtime equity analyst, Joey has covered a range of industries for media outlets including The Motley Fool, Seeking Alpha, Market Realist, and TipRanks. Joey holds a bachelor's degree in business administration.