Will US Airways flight attendants strike? 100+ to picket at airport today

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by Catherine Holland

Video report by Tess Rafols

Posted on November 14, 2012 at 9:09 AM

Updated Friday, Nov 16 at 12:16 PM

PHOENIX -- US Airways flight attendants say their company needs to focus more on its employees and less on the in-the-works merger with American Airlines.

"Management has failed to negotiate an acceptable single contract, which means the US Airways/America West merger of 2005 remains incomplete," according to the Association of Flight Attendants, the world's largest flight attendant union. "The 6,700 flight attendants are fed up and currently taking a strike vote to demonstrate what they are willing to do to achieve a contract that can be ratified."

More than 100 flights attendants will be picketing at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport's Terminal 4 Wednesday afternoon. Flight attendants will also take to picket lines at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, Washington National Airport and Philadelphia International Airport.

Wednesday's action is not expected to disrupt US Airways operations as the flight attendants who are taking part are not scheduled to work. That will not be the case, however, if the flight attendants vote to strike.

"Today is not about us going on strike," said Deborah Volpe, AFA pre-merger America West President. "Today is about is sending a message to the public, to our management and to the national mediation board that 6,500 flight attendants are willing to take it to a strike if necessary."

The AFA sent a letter to all US Airways flight attendants, announcing unanimous endorsement for strike authorization by union leaders. That letter reportedly also made it clear that a strike would not happen immediately.

"If the national mediation board releases us, then it would be chaos," Volpe said, talking about the effects of a strike on holiday travelers. "It would create havoc around the system."

The soonest a strike would happen, according to Volpe, would be after a "30-day cooling off period."

"It could happen in the first quarter during spring break when people are trying to come watch baseball teams," she continued.

While the AFA says all it wants it a contract that can be ratified, the airline says the union has turned down two contracts, both of which reportedly included pay raises.

For their part, the flight attendants are firm on their position.

"We sacrificed for this airline, we work hard for this profitable airline every day and it's high time this management gets serious about finishing this merger by recognizing the workers on the frontline," Volpe and Roger Holmin, AFA pre-merger US Airways President, said in a news release. "How can we trust [president and CEO Doug] Parker to get the next merger done when seven years later he hasn't completed this one? … Forming the largest airline in the world will take the support of workers and US Airways Flight Attendants are not happy."

The results of the strike vote are due Nov. 20.

"AFA represents nearly 60,000 flight attendants at 21 airlines, serving as a voice for flight attendants at their workplace, in the industry, in the media and on Capitol Hill," reads the union's website.

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