Arbitration ends on AA’s new flight attendant contract

After the flight attendant union rejected a contract a couple weeks ago the matter was sent to binding arbitration per the agreement the union and the company made as part of the bankruptcy proceedings. That arbitration was scheduled to last up to four weeks but was completed in only two days last week.

Arbitration is over on the combined American Airlines flight attendant contract after only two days.
Arbitration is over on the combined American Airlines flight attendant contract after only two days. Photo adapted from DearEdward’s work on Flickr per CC license.

And, even though the arbitration board had until early January to issue a ruling, that also came quickly. The new contract takes effect on Saturday and the new pay rate takes effect on January 1, 2015. The union was denied on each of the requests it made from the arbitration board.

The union’s main request in arbitration was to add “me-too” clauses into the contract so that if other unions manage to secure better benefits (e.g health insurance or profit sharing) then the FAs will get those same benefits. Not surprisingly the guy spearheading the drive to defeat the prior tentative agreement said the 2 days of arbitration is too short:

Twenty-nine-year flight attendant Trice Johnson, a leader of the opposition to the tentative agreement and a candidate for Miami base president in upcoming APFA elections, said two days was too short.

“The majority of the flight attendant membership that rejected the TA viewed the less-than-two-days hurried arbitration testimony as reckless and punitive by a union leadership miffed by the fact that they could not sell a flawed tentative agreement to its members,” Johnson said.

American flight attendants have “steadily and voluntarily given back concession after concession for more than a decade,” he said, adding, “The union could have spent the members’ time more wisely by utilizing an appropriate time line (30 full days of testimony) to present a thoughtful and accurate case to the arbitrators.”

That same guy has been a rather public figure in protesting the arbitration at all, ignoring the part where the union had agreed to that to get the company out of bankruptcy. And the part where he’s running for president of the local base should be interesting, especially if his opponent manages to point out that his efforts cost the FAs tens of millions of dollars in contract value.

In the end that same limitation on total contract value is why the arbitrator denied the union’s requests. In each case the request (“me-too” or backdating the raise) was determined to increase the value of that contract beyond what the agreement would permit.

It will be interesting to see just how happy the flight attendants are with the new contract for the next few years. Especially when they had something even more lucrative nearly locked up. That’s gotta sting.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

One Comment

  1. Trice is one of the worst flight attendents working. He thinks he is better than everyone. He doesn’t assist in boarding at all. Sits on the jumpseat reading the NYT during boarding. Don’t vote for him because he is lazy.

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