US Airways flight attendants plan to picket Sky Harbor airport ahead of strike vote

PHOENIX - About 100 flight attendants with US Airways formed an informational picket line at Sky Harbor International Airport's Terminal 4 Wednesday.

The move comes as thousands of employees hold a strike vote.

The Association of Flight Attendants (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 seems to be the sticking point.

Vote results are expected Tuesday. If AFA members approve a strike, the issue would be forwarded to the National Mediation Board for review, Volpe said. The NMB would have its say before a strike could happen and there would be a 30-day cooling period first.

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