AirTran flight attendants, represented by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA), will protest stalled contract negotiations on Wednesday, November 24 as they picket outside Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
Despite Southwest Airlines’ recent announcement to acquire AirTran, management acknowledges that the flight attendants will continue to work under the AirTran contract for at least another two years. Under the Railway Labor Act, this future change in ownership does not negate the carrier’s obligation to negotiate now with its flight attendants in good faith. Contract negotiations began in December 2007.
“It is incomprehensible that our flight attendants are subjected to the worst work rules of any major airline, while it is those same flight attendants’ hard work that has earned AirTran numerous awards and accolades,” said Alison Head, AFA-CWA AirTran President. “Management has worked with its pilots to negotiate an acceptable contract to work under through the Southwest merger process – but refuses to offer some of the same fair work rules to its flight attendants. Why would you extend fair work rules to one group of safety professionals and not to the other?”
Following the announcement of the acquisition by Southwest, AirTran management approached AFA-CWA requesting an abbreviated list of the flight attendants’ greatest concerns in order to expedite negotiations. When presented with the union’s “short list” proposal, company management responded with a counterproposal consisting mostly of existing contract language and minimal pay increases. In addition, they failed to address the most basic work, duty and rest provisions. AFA-CWA rejected management’s proposal and filed for mediation services from the National Mediation Board the following day.
“AirTran flight attendants have sacrificed for nearly two decades, accepting far less than their counterparts at other carriers to help our carrier emerge as an industry leader. The work rules we seek are still light years behind what our colleagues at Southwest currently enjoy. We will not sacrifice any longer,” added Head.