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Pilots Got Their Payday; Now Flight Attendants Push For Higher Wages

Airline pilots won pay raises worth billions of dollars in new labor deals last year. Flight attendants are now pushing for similar improvements. Flight attendants from United Airlines, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Alaska Airlines and others picketed Tuesday at dozens of airports around the U.S., demanding higher wages and a better quality of life. “We have been in a period of austerity for 20 years, and it’s time the industry paid up,” said Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, which represents cabin crews at United, Spirit, Frontier and others. The demonstrations mark the first mass pickets jointly held by the labor unions, which represent more than 100,000 flight attendants at U.S. airlines between them.

How AA Flight Attendants Scored A Huge Strike Vote

Flight Attendants at American Airlines voted to strike by 99.47 percent at the end of August, with 93 percent turnout. The 26,000-member union, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, has been in negotiations since 2019—and members have seen no raises since then. Understaffing and scheduling are also big issues. American, based in Dallas, is the largest airline in the world by passengers carried. In some cases, said Miami flight attendant Laura Bries, “members wanted to strike yesterday,” but because airlines fall under the Railway Labor Act, they face several more steps before they can strike. The union last struck in 1993. I asked three flight attendants involved in the campaign how they got such an impressive strike vote.

Flight Attendants Prepare To Fight

Following the announcement that 99.47% of American Airlines (AA) flight attendants across the U.S. voted to authorize a strike if company officials fail to agree to a 35% wage increase, workers outside Philadelphia Airport’s Terminal A West on Aug. 30, jumped up and yelled in unison, raising and waving their picket signs that said it all: “Ready to Strike!” Members of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, who haven’t had a wage increase since 2019, also picketed in front of over nine airport terminals from Los Angeles’ LAX to Boston’s BOS on the same day. The vote and widespread picketing “made it clear to American management that we are fired up, unified, and standing together for a contract with significant improvements to compensation, retirement, scheduling flexibility, and more.

UPS Pilots Won’t Fly If Teamsters Strike

The union representing UPS pilots says they will not cross picket lines if Teamsters drivers and package sorters walk off the job when the current contract expires Aug. 1, resulting in the immediate shutdown of the express logistics company’s global air operations. UPS (NYSE: UPS) has 3,300 pilots who are represented by the Independent Pilots Association (IPA), a separate union from the Teamsters. “If the Teamsters are on strike, we will honor that strike and we will not fly,” IPA spokesman Brian Gaudet told FreightWaves. UPS pilots are allowed under their collective bargaining agreement to honor primary picket lines and did that for 16 days during the Teamsters’ strike in 1997.

American Airlines Flight Attendants Move Closer To Strike

American Airlines flight attendants will hold a strike vote starting this month, their union announced Tuesday. The vote will begin July 28 and end August 29, with the result announced the next day. More than 26,000 flight attendants are seeking wage increases in a new contract with the airline. “Flight Attendants are ready for an agreement that respects our contributions to the success of this carrier,” Association of Professional Flight Attendants President Julie Hedrick said in a statement. “Our contract became amendable in 2019, and American’s Flight Attendants have not received cost-of-living increases or any other quality-of-life improvements."

UK Airlines’ New ‘Sustainable’ Fuels May Be Causing Deforestation In Asia

The “greenwashing” efforts of UK airlines may be contributing to the destruction of rainforests in Asia, openDemocracy can reveal. The aviation industry began boasting of using ‘sustainable aviation fuel’ (SAF) last year. It claims this will help it to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 because it is made from ‘waste and residue’ materials and can produce 80% less emissions than fossil jet fuel. But government data reveals that more than 80% of the 26 million litres of SAF supplied to airlines in the UK last year was made from imported “used cooking oil”. Most came from countries in Asia, where its authenticity has been questioned.

Private Jets Are Dirty Luxuries For The Ultra Rich – Let’s Tax Them

For several hours in early November 2022, hundreds of protesters grounded all private flights at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, one of the most popular and busiest airports in the world. Activists sat on runways to block private jets from taking off before military police moved in and arrested more than 100 protesters. “The superrich have got used to polluting as they please with a total disregard for people and planet, and private jets are the pinnacle of these luxury emissions that we simply cannot afford,” one activist told The Intercept. Fast forward a few months, and the protesters appeared to be on the brink of success. Schiphol Airport decided to implement a total private jet ban in an effort to reduce air traffic.

Airline Pilots In The US Are Barreling Closer To A Possible Strike

As the busy summer travel season approaches, 25,000 union pilots at two of the nation’s largest commercial airlines — American and Southwest — are taxiing on the runway of a potential strike. Last week, the Allied Pilots Association (APA), which represents 15,000 pilots at American Airlines, announced that its members had voted overwhelmingly to authorize a work stoppage. Signaling their unity, thousands of uniformed APA members held informational pickets on May Day at ten of the nation’s major airports, including Chicago’s O’Hare and Boston’s Logan. “With more than 99% of participating pilots voting in favor of authorizing a strike, our pilots’ resolve is unmistakable,” said Capt. Ed Sicher, APA president.

Inside Southwest’s Horrific Holidays

For America’s rich and powerful, the new year is beginning in a most inauspicious fashion. Millions of Americans are once again fuming at the greed and grasping of our deepest pockets. That fuming — from would-be passengers of Southwest Airlines and their families — filled airports throughout this past holiday week. For good reason. At the height of the travel-heavy holidays, Southwest was canceling 60 percent of the airline’s daily flights. Over 15,000 Southwest planes never lifted off. Late December’s heavy dose of stormy weather certainly did set the stage for Southwest’s holiday meltdown. But Southwest can’t put the blame for the airline’s massive melt on the cold, wind, and snow. Other airlines delivered, amid the same winter weather, far better service.

Grueling Holiday Conditions On The Horizon For Airport Workers

Every year, the media churns out countless headlines on holiday travel surges, operational issues, delays, and lost bags, while ignoring low paid and understaffed workers at airports around the United States. Starting Thanksgiving week, airports are flooded with a holiday surge in passengers, with air travel this season projected to be around 99% of pre-pandemic levels. Bearing the brunt of the holiday travel demands are airport workers who are now expected to handle this surge despite severe understaffing and low pay in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many were initially laid off or furloughed at the onset of the pandemic, which added considerable stress to the overwhelmed workforce. While airlines have returned to relative normalcy, reporting millions of dollars in profits and increased air travel demand, workers report being unable to afford their basic living necessities on the wages they are paid.

US Airline Workers Join Railroaders In Fight Against Abusive Work Conditions

Growing militancy among US airline workers over intolerable work conditions and low pay is fusing with the rebellion by railroad workers, who are heading toward an historic confrontation with the Biden administration and the US Congress with the passage of legislation imposing a contract that workers have rejected. Airline workers are in virtually the same situation as railroaders, with flight crews facing short staffing leading to overwork and potentially catastrophic pilot fatigue. While airlines are raking in bumper profits, boosted by massive government subsidies, airline workers, whose pay has long been stagnant, are being ravaged by inflation. Like railroad workers, airline workers are confronting a ruthless corporate management.

‘I Get To Have A Life’: Pilots Speak Out On Contract Fights

Airline labor is at a breaking point. The country’s four largest airlines are facing pilot labor conflicts, all centering on a mismanaged pandemic recovery. The pilots, split among three unions, share grievances over grueling schedules. They say overwork has depleted their home lives while inflation eats into their paychecks. Delta pilots have voted by 99 percent to authorize a strike, with 96 percent turnout. United pilots voted by 94 percent to reject a tentative agreement, and the American pilots union leadership voted not to even send their deal out for a vote. Southwest pilots filed for mediation in September, signaling that contract negotiations are not going smoothly either. Any potential strikes are still a long way off.

Delta Airline Pilots Vote Near-Unanimously For Strike Action

On Monday, 15,000 Delta Airline pilots voted to go on strike by more than 99 percent, after contract talks have dragged on for three years between management and the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA). Delta pilots have been working under the strictures of their 2016 contract. The contract became open for negotiations in 2019 before being put on hold during the first years of the COVID-19 pandemic. Negotiations resumed under the direction of a federal mediator. “Today, Delta’s nearly 15,000 pilots sent a clear message to management that we are willing to go the distance to secure a contract that reflects the value we bring to Delta Air Lines as frontline leaders and long-term stakeholders,” said Capt. Jason Ambrosi of ALPA in a public statement.

Inside The Fight To Unionize Delta Air Lines

“Flight attendants at Delta are currently pushing to form a union at the only major airline in the US where flight attendants are not unionized,” journalist and friend of the show Michael Sainato recently wrote in The Guardian. ​“The aim is to allow the airline’s 23,000 flight attendants to vote on whether to unionize with the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA) and will face fierce opposition from an airline that has fought previous efforts.” Delta has fiercely fought off unionization efforts in the past, but workers and organizers are confident that this time they’ll get a victory. We talk with Jonnie Lane, who works at Delta and has been a flight attendant for the past 15 years, about her path to working in the airline industry, what it’s been like working as a flight attendant before and during COVID-19, and what a union would mean for Jonnie and her coworkers.

Lufthansa Workers Strike Over Wages

The ver.di union, one of the unions representing workers at the German airline Lufthansa, has called for a new strike on Wednesday, July 27, to demand a 9.5-percent wage increase to address inflation. The strike affects ground workers in maintenance and towing. “The situation at airports is degenerating and employees are increasingly under pressure and overworked due to severe understaffing, high inflation, and no raise for three years,” Christine Behl, a ver.di leader, told AFP. This flows from a shortfall of 7,000 employees in Germany’s aviation sector, the result of precarious jobs marked by low wages, along with the significant number of jobs lost during the pandemic. In a press release addressed to passengers, the union explains, “We want a functioning air traffic without stress and strain for our passengers and employees.
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