The Association of Professional Flight Attendants is a significant step closer to a strike after the union and American Airlines failed to reach an agreement by the end of a five-day bargaining session.
The Association of Professional Flight Attendants said in a statement late Wednesday that the company left the bargaining table after the two parties were unable to reach a deal.
The union said it will now contact the National Mediation Board to request a 30-day cooling-off period. At the end of that period, APFA said it can choose to engage in a strike or seek other types of “self-help.”
An American Airlines spokeswoman said in a statement: “The notion that we walked out is categorically untrue. In fact, American Airlines negotiators remained in Washington, D.C., until this morning. This round of talks was always scheduled to conclude at the end of business Wednesday evening and American Airlines actually agreed to wait to hear the union’s counter-proposal. We agreed to review this version and the mediator recessed the session, after 7 p.m. We will respond to the counter-proposal at our next negotiating session.”
In February, news broke that AMR Corp. was looking into training replacement flight attendants in the case a strike should erupt after the latest rounds of intense discussions.
American said Thursday the company presented the union with creative solutions, including structural increases that are important to the APFA union. However, the company added, “In order to offer those increases and other items key to APFA … we’ve proposed an eight-year deal that would help us to balance our costs over the long term.”
American said the union’s current proposal would cost the airline hundreds of millions of dollars over a period of six years, leading to uncompetitive labor levels.
“This is an economic reality the company has asked APFA to recognize so both sides can work out an agreement that will allow the airline to compete successfully and provide competitive pay and benefits and a good career for its employees,” the airline said.
American said it is looking to hear from the mediator to determine the next steps in the bargaining process.