American Airlines’ flight attendants union and the airline’s management requested federal mediation from the National Mediation Board on Friday.
The Association of Professional Flight Attendants have been working without a contract since December 2019. The union says it’s been negotiating a new deal ever since, with a brief pause at the height of COVID-19.
Julie Hedrick, president of the National Association of Professional Flight Attendants, said the union was eager to come to a resolution.
“We are entering a critical period in our bargaining of a new contract,” Hedrick said. “We have had productive discussions at the bargaining table…and are prepared to work with the National Mediation Board to bring these negotiations to a close and secure a contract with much needed improvements for 25,000 American Airlines Flight Attendants.”
The APFA’s national communications chair, Paul Hartshorn, Jr., said they’re looking to secure better pay and work-life balance for the union’s members.
Flight attendants are back to flying the same hours as before COVID but with a reduced workforce, he said.
“Staffing was reduced, flight attendants are working more flights per day, working longer hours per day,” Hartshorn said.
In the last quarter, American Airlines reported a net income of $127 million. For the full year, its 2022 net income was $803 million.
The company issued a statement Friday saying they were happy with the decision to seek mediation alongside the union.
“We’re really proud of the progress we’ve made in negotiations with the APFA — both the union and company negotiating teams have met regularly and collaboratively over the past few months to reach an agreement that provides real and meaningful value for our flight attendants,” a company spokesperson wrote.
In requesting a federal mediator, the union joins Dallas-based Southwest Airlines flight attendants in seeking the same. Southwest attendants made their request this past summer.
Their union, TWU Local 556, picketed outside Dallas Love Field Thursday to demand a fix to outdated technology that helped lead to a historic holiday travel meltdown for the company in December.
Neither Southwest nor the union responded to requests for comment Friday.
Both airlines are also in negotiation with their pilots unions. Southwest’s pilots said in January they would vote to strike in May. American is still in negotiations with its pilots.