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American Airlines Flight Attendants Protest Arbitration Agreement

Monday, December, 15, 2014

In a twist on the usual narrative describing flight attendant union negotiations, flight attendants with American Airlines gathered in Texas recently to protest their own union and the arbitration proceedings it was engaged in with the airline. The flight attendants criticize their union, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) for immediately entering into binding arbitration with the airline instead of pressing for further negotiations, viewing binding arbitration as limiting and ultimately favoring the airline.


The flight attendants cite the low cost of fuel and the record earnings airlines are enjoying as reasons to push for more full-throated negotiations with the threat of a strike. APFA rejected a contract from American Airlines in November that offered pay raises for all flight attendants because the members wanted profit sharing to be included as well. Many flight attendants expressed a belief that their flexibility in negotiations during the hard times enabled American Airlines to survive, and they now wish to be rewarded.


The APFA, however, stated that it is legally required to enter into arbitration because of an agreement between the union and the airline. Arbitration is limited to a thirty-day period and is required to produce a new contract.


American Airlines issued a statement rejecting the call for profit sharing and positioning it as a bad idea for employees, as this would reduce compensation when hard times hit, whereas an increase in pay reliably puts the money back into the employees’ pockets. One way or another, a new contract will be issued by end of the year.