Flight attendants OK strike action

PITTSBURGH (PAI) — By unanimous vote, the Association of Flight Attendants/CWA executive board decided Nov. 17 to authorize a strike at any bankrupt airline, if those carriers use the bankruptcy code to terminate union contracts.

The vote in Pittsburgh, a key hub for one of the broke carriers — US Airways — sent a clear signal to the airlines that the flight attendants have had enough of airline cost-cutting on the employees’ backs, AFA union President Pat Friend said.

“We will stand up for the profession we have built by taking a stand for flight attendants everywhere,” Friend told her board. “Airline management needs to understand there will be serious consequences if they persist in their attacks on our contracts.”

If the attendants strike, US Airways and United would be the top airlines affected.

The strike would be a special form of protest AFA calls “CHAOS,” standing for “creating havoc around our system” through selective on-the-spot flight cancellations and delays.

Both airlines want bankruptcy judges to order drastic cuts in workers’ pay and to kill workers’ pension plans.

“Our entire industry is in turmoil and careers of our flight attendants hang in the balance,” Friend said. “Pensions ... are wiped out with the sound of a gavel. Health coverage … is reaching cost levels unaffordable to flight attendants who every year sacrifice more income to ‘save their airline.’”

Following the board’s strike authorization vote, AFA members rallied in Pittsburgh in a show of solidarity, as the union sent out strike authorization ballots to its members. Votes are to be counted by Christmas.