US Airways flight attendants seeking a new contract have voted to authorize a strike, their union said Tuesday, but the airline and union said a strike is not imminent due to legal restrictions on workers.
The Association of Flight Attendants said 94 percent of members who participated in the vote cast their ballots in favor of a strike. Of the carriers 6,700 flight attendants, 4,100 voted to authorize a strike and 250 voted against, a spokesperson said.
US Airways Flight Attendants are determined to do whatever it takes to get our long overdue contract, said union presidents Roger Holmin and Deborah Volpe, in a joint statement.
The flight attendants have rejected contract offers from US Airways twice this year. In their most recent vote, union members narrowly turned down their proposed contract, 51 to 49 percent.
The airlines flight attendants havent had a unified contract since US Airways and America West merged in 2005. The two groups still fly separately, under separate contracts, with different work rules and pay rates. US Airways pilots are in the same situation.
Flight attendants picketed last week at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, demanding a contract with better terms. They contend that they took large wage and benefit cuts to help the company survive bankruptcy, and they should be better compensated now that Tempe, Ariz.-based US Airways is consistently profitable again.
Profits are soaring but flight attendants still shoulder the sacrifices forced through bankruptcy a decade ago, said Volpe and Holmin, in their statement.
Contract negotiations are being conducted under the direction of the National Mediation Board. Under the terms of a federal law regulating transportation company labor relations, the flight attendants cant strike until theyve been released from negotiations and undergone a 30-day cooling-off period.
US Airways spokeswoman Michelle Mohr said via email that the airline does not believe a strike is going to happen in the near future. The National Mediation Board has not released the union to strike and therefore there will be no operational or flight disruptions during the holiday travel season, Mohr wrote.
The union has told our flight attendants that the strike vote is about positioning at the bargaining table and not about striking and the union has not requested that the National Mediation Board cease the mediation and negotiations process, Mohr said.
Charlotte Douglas International is US Airways busiest hub, with more than 600 flights per day from the city. There are about 2,100 flight attendants based at Charlotte.
The issue comes at a time when US Airways is attempting to merge with American Airlines while the Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier is in bankruptcy. The flight attendants say US Airways management should focus on first achieving unified contracts with all of its existing work groups.
Said union presidents Holmin and Volpe in their statement: Seven years after the supposed merger of America West and US Airways this management hasnt gotten it done.
US Airways stock closed up 42 cents, or 3.5 percent, at $12.49 a share on Tuesday.