Flight attendant dispute erupts before US Airways - American Airlines merger

Nov. 21, 2013 at 3:53 PM
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FORT WORTH, Texas, Nov. 21 (UPI) -- A dispute between airline attendants at from merging U.S. airlines US Airways and American Airlines could damage public relations before the merger closes.

"When these disputes occur, it's best to keep them private. When they boil over into the public realm, that's when the traveler and the travel buyer gets nervous -- and that's what could undermine confidence in the new airline," said Hudson Crossing analyst Henry Harteveldt.

The two sides spent months working on a merger agreement while the Justice Department considered blocking the merger on antitrust concerns.

With the antitrust issues resolved -- the airlines agreeing to give some slots at terminals to low-cost airlines -- the Association of Professional Flight Attendants that represents 18,000 American Airlines flight attendants and the Association of Flight Attendants that represents 8,000 US Airways attendants have suddenly gotten vocal about issues that are preventing a smooth merger between the two, the Fort Worth, Texas, Star-Telegram reported Thursday.

The unions and the airlines were close to an agreement in May, but could not seal the deal, as talks bogged down on the final language of the merger agreement, the newspaper said.

Laura Glading, president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants at American, now says that the Association of Flight Attendants wants to "reset" the debate on union representation.

"I'm not willing to hit the reset button on their unreasonable demands," Glading told the Star-Telegram.

"The synergy of this merger can only be realized if we come together, and I'm not going to engage in their petty politics," she said.

The Association of Flight Attendants, meanwhile, sent a notice to its members saying it was pushing for a single contract agreement for all flight attendants of the merged airline.

"US Airways management negotiated a process with APFA for reaching a single agreement which shut out the input and experiences of 8,000 US Airways flight attendants. This exclusionary process not only squanders an opportunity to gain an industry-leading contract, but wipes out solid contract language which governs our day-to-day working lives now and for years to come," the notice said.

Neither of the airlines would comment on the dispute, the Star-Telegram reported.

With the antitrust issue settled, the companies had been pressing to have a closing on the merger before the end of the year, the newspaper said.

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