US Airways Flight Attendants to Take Strike Vote

Tickers in this article: LCC

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- (TheStreet) -- In the aftermath of two failed contract votes during the past eight months, flight attendants at US Airways (LCC) are preparing to take a strike vote.

The vote on whether to authorize a strike by the carrier's 6,700 flight attendants is scheduled to open Oct. 31 and to close Nov. 20. While strike authorization votes are generally approved, strikes are rare.

"The decision to take a strike vote is not made lightly," leaders of the US Airways chapter of the Association of Flight Attendants said Wednesday in a message to members. "It was the result of full deliberation of all strategic options. Despite emphatic arguments made by your joint negotiating committee, US Airways management has consistently refused to address your concerns.

" The unanimous conclusion of every (union leader) was a strike vote is necessary to achieve a different dynamic for these negotiations," the union said.

Union leaders are in a tough spot. They have twice endorsed a tentative contract, although a leadership dispute apparently tempered some leaders' enthusiasm the first time, and yet it has not passed. In the first vote, in March, the deal was rejected by 75% of the flight attendants who voted.

So the union surveyed members, negotiated a few changes, and worked hard to assure ratification in a second vote. But last month, the contract was rejected by 49 votes. Now experts expect that eventually, flight attendants will get a third chance to vote. In any case, it seems unlikely that the National Mediation Board would release flight attendants to strike.

US Airways spokeswoman Michelle Mohr said Wednesday: "The contract vote was extremely close, 51 to 49. The NMB told us, and the AFA acknowledged, that if the contract were voted down it would not schedule any additional talks. The only way a strike could happen would be for the NMB to release the parties and there would need to be a 30-day cooling off period before any strike could happen."

-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.

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