Eight years after US Airways and America West merged, flight attendant union leaders gathered in Charlotte this week to unify their representation under one master executive council.
The move means the final end of East (legacy US Airways) and West (former America West) flight attendant groups. The two workgroups, totaling nearly 8,000 flight attendants, signed their first unified contract earlier this year.
Its a historic day, flight attendant Roger Holmin said Wednesday at the unions Charlotte offices off Nations Ford Road. Weve been called East and West for eight years, and today is a milestone.
Holmin was elected to head the combined master executive council by local union leaders, for a term lasting through the end of the year. Before this week, although the flight attendants were all represented by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, they had separate master councils for the East and West groups.
The unification comes at a critical time. US Airways is working to finish its merger with American Airlines, a deal expected to close in the third quarter. The US Airways flight attendants will have to decide how to proceed as they integrate with the larger Association of Professional Flight Attendants, which represents some 18,000 flight attendants at American Airlines.
Veda Shook, AFA president, said she hopes the unions can merge without any major issues. She said some people might expect the AFA to totally relinquish representation of the US Airways flight attendants in the face of the larger American Airlines work group, but were just too scrappy for that.
Two other major unions representing mechanics and ground workers at American Airlines and US Airways, the Transport Workers Union and the International Association of Machinists, said earlier this week that they will jointly represent workers at the merged airline.
Shook said she hopes the flight attendant unions can avoid any major conflicts as they merge. After the America West-US Airways merger, years of infighting and disagreements among pilots and flight attendants kept the two groups from ratifying joint contracts which included raises and bonuses for years. US Airways pilots still do not have a joint contract.
When workgroups fight each other, the boss wins, Shook said.
Said Holmin, We are interested in doing whats in the best interest of all the flight attendants.
Portillo: 704-358-5041 On Twitter @ESPortillo
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