American Airlines flight attendants are planning a nationwide picketing campaign on Thursday.
Locally, the picketing will take place outside of the company’s Fort Worth headquarters, reported NBC 5 DFW.
The flight attendants are picketing to pressure American Airlines to come to new contract terms with the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) after more than four years of negotiations. The talks started in 2019 but were paused until 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The flight attendants are demanding an immediate 33% wage hike with additional annual raises that would increase their pay by 50% over the next four years, reported TheStreet. The initial wage hike before annual raises would increase flight attendant’s hourly rate from $30.35 to $40.37. The attendants cite rising cost of living costs as justification for their demands.
Julie Hedrick, national president of the APFA, told Business Traveler in late October that November 17 was a target date for strike action if American Airlines did not comply with the group’s demands.
“Time’s up. At last week’s negotiations session, negotiators for American Airlines showed up with no response to our comprehensive economic and non-economic package. Our flight attendants have overwhelmingly authorized a strike, and we will move the process forward and prepare for a strike if necessary,” Hedrick said, per Business Traveler.
In a statement provided to NBC 5, the DFW-based airline and Fortune 500 company reiterated that it is participating in ongoing negotiations.
“We continue to meet regularly with the APFA and remain focused on the shared goal of reaching a deal our flight attendants have earned.”
A strike could lead to major delays and headaches for travelers in the DFW area and across the nation.
According to expert Gary Leff, flight attendants may attempt a so-called “CHAOS” strike rather than a traditional work stoppage. CHAOS is an acronym for “Create Havoc Around Our System.” Such a move would entail attendants randomly refusing to work certain flights, creating delays and forcing the airline and passengers to reschedule those flights.
The maneuver enables flight attendants to continue being paid rather than face the financial strain of an all-out strike.
Before any strike can begin, the union must petition the National Mediation Board for permission, and a 30-day cooling-off period would have to elapse.