American flight attendants to vote next month on strike
12:00 AM CST on Tuesday, March 9, 2010
By TERRY MAXON / The Dallas Morning News firstname.lastname@example.org
The union representing flight attendants at American Airlines Inc. has scheduled a vote next month to ask its members to authorize a strike against the carrier.
The Association of Professional Flight Attendants' board of directors, which began its four-day annual convention Sunday in Irving, will send strike ballots to members in early April, an APFA official said Monday.
In addition, APFA leaders will meet with the National Mediation Board next week to ask to be released from mediation, the official said.
If the NMB agrees that the talks have reached an impasse, it could lead to the start of a 30-day cooling-off period. Union members then could walk off their jobs or take other job actions, and the company could impose a contract.
The Transport Workers Union, also in prolonged negotiations with American, said it would hold off until Thursday on its request for a release into a cooling-off period.
John Conley, TWU's Air Transport Division president, warned last month that the TWU would ask the NMB for the release on Monday if the union didn't have an acceptable deal from American by then.
After Conley's comments, the NMB subsequently extended negotiations for TWU's fleet service clerks and other ground employees through Wednesday, which forced TWU to postpone its request.
"NMB Board Member Linda Puchala has asked the TWU and its representatives gathered in Washington today to hold off filing for release from mediation until at least March 11," TWU said in a statement.
"The union is honoring her request," it added.
While the two sides have agreed on a number of items in the latest round of talks that began Saturday, they haven't come up with a final deal.
"We're making good progress this week with the TWU Fleet negotiating committee in Washington, D.C., and both parties continue to work hard at the table," American spokeswoman Missy Latham said. "The TWU was correct to follow the NMB's recommendation, as the mediator-scheduled talks are scheduled to run through Wednesday."
In a message to his members Saturday, TWU Local 562 president Bob Owens said the union's last proposal to American "is concessionary compared to what we had in 2003. Given the economy it may be the best we could hope for but the minimum we should accept."
On the APFA talks, Latham said American's negotiators "are awaiting next steps from the mediator, and look forward to continuing to bargain when the mediator establishes the next set of dates."