Major US airlines have recovered from Covid-19 pandemic losses and can boast of a healthy bottom line with booming profits. But as the busy holiday season approaches, three airlines are facing looming strike threats.
Flight attendants for three major airlines, American Airlines, Alaska Airlines and United Airlines, are threatening strikes over low pay and unpaid leave.
Flight attendants are only paid from door closure until the door opens on flights. Kiara O’Bryant, a Seattle-based flight attendant at Alaska Airlines, told The Guardian,
“All of that time we spend with passengers on the ground or sitting and waiting for other aircrafts in between flights goes unpaid.”
“There are instances where flight attendants are sitting anywhere from two to four hours, what becomes a mechanical rolling delay, where that full time is not accounted for and paid for. So, it’s not just the boarding, but it’s anytime that we are required to be on duty at work in uniform, that we are advocating for pay.”
This summer, the 26,000 flight attendants at American Airlines voted 99.47% in favor of authorizing a strike against the airline. Union representatives have been negotiating with the airline since 2019 while workers have been without a pay raise or cost of living raise in over four years.
Pickets at the airline’s major bases have been ongoing as negotiations continue.
Pickets by United Airlines flight attendants were held at 19 airports across the country on August 31 demanding a new contract for the more than 25,000 workers to address understaffing and operational issues.
American Airlines reported record quarterly revenue in the second quarter of 2023 at $14.1bn, United Airlines reported record revenue in the same quarter at $14.2bn and a threefold increase in profit, and Alaska Airlines also reported record revenue in the second quarter of 2023 at $2.8bn.
A strike, however, has complications. The Railway Labor Act prevents a strike, despite what workers want, until the National Mediation Board releases the union and airline into a 30-day cooling-off period.
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