Lawmakers Urge Mediation Board to Help Flight Attendants Reach Contract Deals

A bipartisan group of 178 Members of Congress urges the National Mediation Board to facilitate a resolution to prolonged contract negotiations between major US airlines (United, American, Alaska, and Frontier) and over 80,000 flight attendants, who are seeking fair deals on wages, benefits, and working conditions, with the outcome potentially impacting the airline industry's labor relations and passenger experience." This description focuses on the primary topic (contract negotiations between airlines and flight attendants), central entities (Congress, National Mediation Board, airlines, and flight attendants), context (US airline industry), significant actions (bipartisan effort to pressure the National Mediation Board), and implications (impact on labor relations and passenger experience). The description also provides objective and relevant details that will help an AI generate an accurate visual representation of the article's content.

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Nitish Verma
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Lawmakers Urge Mediation Board to Help Flight Attendants Reach Contract Deals

Lawmakers Urge Mediation Board to Help Flight Attendants Reach Contract Deals

A bipartisan group of 178 Members of Congress, led by Rep. Melanie Stansbury (D-NM), sent a letter to the National Mediation Board (NMB) on May 14, 2024, urging the agency to use all provisions under the Railway Labor Act to resolve contract negotiations for over 80,000 flight attendants from United, American, Alaska, and Frontier Airlines. The lawmakers expressed concern that the prolonged negotiations are due in part to the inability of workers to avail themselves of self-help options, including the right to strike.

Why this matters: The outcome of these negotiations could have a significant impact on the airline industry's labor relations and set a precedent for future contract disputes. Moreover, a resolution to these negotiations could also affect the quality of service and working conditions for flight attendants, ultimately influencing the safety and experience of millions of air travelers.

The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA), which represents over 50,000 flight attendants at 20 airlines, is currently in negotiations at 13 of its represented airlines, including Air Wisconsin, Alaska Airlines, and Omni Air, all of which have authorized strikes if necessary. Sara Nelson, international president of the AFA, emphasized the importance of deadlines in negotiations, stating, "Deadlines are critical for negotiations. Airlines have delayed earned improvements by as much as five years while awarding CEOs and other executives. Clearly, a credible strike threat is needed to settle these disputes."

Since 2006, there have only been two releases from mediation with strike deadlines, compared to dozens in the 1980s and 1990s that led to ratified agreements. Flight attendants are fighting for a living wage, pay for all time on the job, improved flexibility, no additional employee costs or reductions to healthcare, and retirement security. A second, coordinated worldwide protest is planned for June 13, 2024.

The letter to the NMB was led by Reps. Melanie Stansbury (NM-1st), Donald Norcross (NJ-1st), Mark Pocan (WI-2nd), Debbie Dingell (MI-6th), Steven Horsford (NV-4th), and Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-1st). The AFA has advanced the flight attendant profession for 78 years, improving wages, benefits, working conditions, and aviation safety, health, and security.

The bipartisan congressional effort aims to pressure the National Mediation Board to facilitate a resolution to the prolonged contract negotiations and allow flight attendants to reach fair deals. With over 80,000 flight attendants affected across major U.S. airlines, the outcome of these negotiations could have significant implications for the airline industry and its workforce.

Key Takeaways

  • 178 Members of Congress urge National Mediation Board to resolve flight attendant contract negotiations.
  • Over 80,000 flight attendants from 4 major US airlines are affected by the prolonged negotiations.
  • Flight attendants are fighting for a living wage, improved flexibility, and retirement security.
  • A credible strike threat is needed to settle disputes, according to AFA international president Sara Nelson.
  • A second worldwide protest is planned for June 13, 2024, to support flight attendants' demands.