US Airways and American Airlines flight attendants have reached an agreement to bargain together for a new contract and be represented by the American union, the groups said Friday, an important step in integrating the two airlines’ workforces.
American merged with US Airways in December. Although flight attendants from both companies supported the $17.8 billion merger, the leaders of the two unions had been feuding over who would ultimately represent employees of the merged carrier.
On Friday, the 24,000 flight attendants said they have agreed to be represented by the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, the union that represents American workers. US Airways flight attendants will leave the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA by the fall.
“US Airways flight attendants are eager to take full advantage of the benefits of the US Airways/American merger,” AFA-US Airways President Roger Holmin said in a statement. “We will work diligently over the next year to ensure our contract reflects our valuable contributions to the success of American Airlines. Unity pays.”
About 2,200 US Airways flight attendants are based in Charlotte.
Under the agreement, the two unions will form a joint negotiating committee and spend the next two months preparing. Then, they will bargain with American for five months to attempt to reach a combined agreement for a new contract covering all flight attendants.
Any items the flight attendants and American can’t agree on will be submitted to arbitration, the unions said. The goal is to have a signed contract in place by the first quarter of 2015.
US Airways faced divisive labor disputes after its last merger, with America West in 2005. The flight attendants from America West and US Airways couldn’t agree on a joint contract for years, and pilots from the two companies never did, remaining divided by a bitter dispute over seniority.