5.25.01 – (LAA) – APFA FAs Reject Arbitration

This is Leslie Mayo, National Communications Coordinator, with an updated hotline for May 30th, 2001.

The following Press Release was issued today:


Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX (May 30, 2001) — The Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA), the Union representing the 23,000 American Airlines flight attendants, today rejected arbitration of its collective bargaining dispute, which will trigger a 30-day countdown to a possible strike. The current flight attendant contract became amendable in November 1998. “We have tried everything possible to get a new contract, we have narrowed our differences, but the Company has still not been willing to put the money on the table that is needed to get the job done,” said John Ward, President of APFA. “The Company likes to characterize its current proposal as ‘industry leading,’ but the pay it has offered will keep the American flight attendants behind the industry leader for the entire duration of the contract,” added Ward. APFA’s objective is to reach agreement on an acceptable contract within the next 30 days and without a strike, but it will also be escalating its strike preparation activities now that there is a specific, short-term strike deadline. “Whether we strike or not depends on the Company, if they finally step up to the plate and treat the American flight attendants fairly and with dignity, we can avoid a strike; if they fail to make the necessary moves, a strike is unfortunately a distinct possibility,” cautioned President Ward.


This is APFA President John Ward with the APFA Hotline for Friday, May 25.

There were significant developments this week in our ongoing effort to obtain a new contract.

Unfortunately, our most recent discussions with American Airlines ended Wednesday night in Kansas City without a new contract. The National Mediation Board formally declared that an impasse had been reached and proffered binding arbitration to the parties as a means to resolve the dispute, in accordance with the Railway Labor Act. If either party rejects the proffer of arbitration, the thirty-day cooling off period will begin. The APFA Board of Directors will meet in special session on Wednesday in Dallas/Fort Worth for a complete briefing on the status of negotiations, prior to responding to the NMB.

The Company wasted no time before resorting to one of its favorite negotiations tactics: bargaining with the membership. Flight Attendant mailboxes were immediately stuffed with the Company’s latest proposal, which still falls short of expectations, particularly in the area of money. The simplest, most straightforward way by which to judge the Company’s wage proposal is to take a look at their proposed average annual increases. One thing is certain: this latest Company proposal does not contain industry-leading wages. The 1999 Tentative Agreement, which was overwhelmingly rejected by the membership, contained average annual increases of approximately 2.5%. In November of last year, the Company proposed average annual increases of 2.56%. The Company’s May 23 proposal to APFA contains average annual increases of 3.2%, which do not even keep pace with inflation. By the way, last year, the increase in the cost of living was 3.4%, according to the Consumer Price Index. How do these proposed rates compare to Delta? Well, on average, they are 5.8% lower than Delta’s current rates. We would continue to lag behind Delta until 2003, and that is assuming Delta would not have any raises. Even the Company recognizes that the Delta rates will increase during the term of this contract. When applying even the most conservative estimates of those increases, the Company’s proposed rates remain below Delta’s for the entire duration of this contract.

In the area of retro pay, the Company’s proposal contains no retroactive increases for 1998 and 1999. All it is offering for this period is a lump sum. A true retroactive raise increases the base to which all subsequent increases are applied; a lump sum does not. By not providing a retro increase for 98 and 99, the hourly pay rate for 2000 and subsequent years is considerably lower than it would be if the rate increases were truly retroactive.

Now let’s talk about all the concessions the Company is demanding for this so-called raise.

The Company’s proposed change to our hard fought duty rig, or “E-time” as it is known, would save them millions ($34 million, according to the Company’s own cost estimates).

The Company is demanding we pre-fund our retiree medical benefits, which would eat up part of any raise and save them $9 million. It would require current Flight Attendants to pay $11 per month. Flight Attendants electing to pre-fund at a later date and new hires (hired after the date of ratification) would pay higher, age-based rates ranging from $14 to $105 per month.

The Company refuses to commit to a timetable for implementation of any new crew rest facilities. They expect us to remain in the current, unacceptable seats for years while they work out the details. Worse yet, they are demanding a 10-year “no reopener” on Crew Rest, which would preclude APFA from being able to negotiate any future improvements to crew rest during that period.

The Company is also demanding that it have the ability to put language speakers on domestic flights as a bid position. Unlike the current voluntary domestic language speaker program, which allows for speakers on domestic segments over and above the regular crew complement, this would allow the Company to violate our seniority by requiring speakers on flights, which are now covered with non-speakers. For example, the Company could designate a bid extra position, like say #9 on the LAX-JFK Transcon, as a Spanish trip, thereby requiring a speaker qualification.

Although we don’t yet have a deal, the NMB’s declaration of an impasse will finally move this process along and allow for a specific timetable for a resolution of this dispute. It is very important that we remain unified and informed during this next phase. Remember to call this hotline or visit the APFA website. Phone Watch Volunteers are available Monday to Friday to answer any questions you might have at 866-ASK-APFA.

Finally tonight, I want to thank everyone who participated in our “D.C. Fly-In” this past Tuesday. Well over 200 APFA Members from all over the system, with seniorities ranging from two weeks to forty years, flew into Washington to deliver our message to Congress: allow the collective bargaining process to proceed without government intervention. I would like to thank to one of our biggest allies in Congress, Rep. James Oberstar from Minnesota for speaking at our rally. Jim is the ranking member of the House Transportation Committee. Thanks also to APFA’s Legislative Representative Joan Wages for all her hard work in making the event happen. Our Info Rep Coordinators and Negotiators Robin Madison, Ray Baylis and Peter Day also worked tirelessly in organizing this event. Thanks to APFA Vice President Jeff Bott for conducting the press conference and leading the rally on the steps of the Capitol.

That’s it for now. This hotline will be updated on Wednesday, May 30. Please turn your bag tags to “Time Is Up”. Thank you for continued support. Have a happy and safe Memorial Day weekend.

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