PHOENIX - If you head to the airport, you might notice some turbulence but not in the skies.
We're talking about a labor disagreement between flight attendants and management that could end in a strike.
The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) voted 94 percent for strike authorization on Tuesday.
AFA says 6,700 flight attendants around the country are fed up with stalled contract negotiations. According to the AFA, contract negotiations have failed since the US Airways/America West merger of 2005.
"(Doug) Parker, (CEO and Chairman of US Airways), has his eyes on a new merger with American Airlines but he needs to finish this merger first and work with his current employees," Roger Holmin and Deborah Volpe, presidents of the AFA representing flight attendants for pre-merger US Airways and America West respectively, wrote in a statement.
US Airways has been working to merge with bankrupt American Airlines since August. If the merger happened, US Airways/American Airlines would become the world's largest carrier.
"We have a saying: 'Daddy has a new family now. He hasn't taken care of this family yet.' This airline, these employees," Volpe said. "You begin to wonder, if he can't take care of these employees at the original carrier, how's he going to take care of a larger carrier?"
Volpe says it is unlikely that a strike would happen during the holidays but it could occur during Arizona's peak season.
"January, February, March. We're talking Spring Training, winter travel. That's when the impact could hit," Volpe said.
Volpe stressed the AFA does not want to strike but it could come to that. Pay is a sticking point.
The issue will now be forwarded to the National Mediation Board for review, Volpe said. The NMB will have its say before a strike could happen and there would be a 30-day cooling period first.
US Airways responded with a statement that said the NMB has not released the union to strike and that there would not be any flight disruptions during the holiday season.
NEXT PAGE -- AFA STATEMENT
Today we voted 94 percent for strike authorization. Together we are calling on management to finish our US Airways/America West merger with a single contract for all US Airways Flight Attendants. AFA members made clear what we are willing to do to push management to negotiate a contract that can be ratified.
Our contract is long overdue. Parker and his team of negotiators have failed to negotiate a single contract that addresses the issues you have identified as paramount for a single agreement. Seven years after the supposed merger of America West and US Airways they still refuse to address your concerns. We may not fly together, but today we made clear that we would walk out together if we were released and Parker failed to reach an agreement with us.
None of us wants to strike. We want to work for a successful airline. And, we expect our share of the success of the airline. Let’s make no mistake – it will be incredibly difficult to get back to the negotiating table to reach an agreement. This strike vote can only be the beginning of management seeing US and hearing US Together.
The next step is to continue to speak with one voice. Our Joint Negotiating Committee will take our proposal for improved economics to the National Mediation Board – backed by this Strike Vote. Our collective job is to continue to back this up. Management needs to see every Flight Attendant with an AFA pin on and a “Strike Vote YES” sticker displayed on our bags. We will be pressing the NMB for additional mediation dates to reach an agreement you can ratify. And, we will update you on our discussions with the NMB.
There is no way to reach an agreement without your continued support and engagement in the process. If you are not already signed up for updates from ourafa.org, go there now and click on “Get E-lines” to subscribe. Sign up to be a part of our mobilization structure to get the information first and make the commitment to share it with your flying partners.
The decision to authorize a strike is not made lightly. You made a powerful statement with your vote and our work together is not done. Let us continue to show our unity and take action together. Management should see and hear nothing but: US Together.
Deborah Volpe, President
AFA US Airways-West MEC
Roger Holmin, President
AFA US Airways-East MEC
NEXT PAGE -- US AIRWAYS STATEMENT
US AIRWAYS STATEMENT
The National Mediation Board has not released the union to strike and therefore there will be no operational or flight disruptions during the holiday travel season. The union has told our flight attendants that the strike vote is about positioning at the bargaining table and not about striking and the union has not requested that the National Mediation Board cease the mediation and negotiations process.
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