Piedmont’s American Eagle Flight Attendants Vote To Strike

American Airlines-owned Piedmont Airlines’ flight attendants have voted to strike over their new contractual terms. The union claims that the new contract will leave them with less take-home pay than regional competitors. Let’s find out more.

Embraer, ERJ145, HEPA Filter
Piedmont Airlines operates a fleet of ERJ145s on behalf of American Eagle. Photo: Getty Images

Stop

Piedmont Airlines’ flight attendants have authorized a strike following a vote that saw 100% approval by over 75% of the members. The decision means that the union is ready to deploy its most important weapon during contract negotiations, possibly bringing flights to a halt and causing widespread disruption to operations.

Piedmont is a subsidiary carrier of the American Airlines Group, operating under the American Eagle regional brand. This means it has its own employment structure and pay rates, which are lower than other American subsidiaries, the mainline carrier, and other competitors, according to the union.

American Eagle Embraer E145 Getty
While flights are sold under the American Airlines brand, they are flown by several subsidiaries or contract airlines. Photo: Getty Images

The union had harsh words for the group management, with AFA Piedmont President Keturah Johnson stating,

“Piedmont Flight Attendants are speaking with one voice to demand management get serious about resolving our contract. Flight Attendants kept Piedmont flying through the pandemic. How does management thank us? By offering a ‘deal’ that would mean cuts to our take-home pay…Enough is enough. Piedmont Flight Attendants can’t afford to work at Piedmont.”

Trigger

Piedmont Flight Attendants organized a protest outside the picketing outside of Philadelphia International Airport today to take the contract issues public. This has been a long-drawn negotiation, first beginning in 2018. However, the pandemic has had a major impact on the pay rates, with management’s proposed increases offset by higher health insurance costs.

Overall, take-home pay is decreased under the new contract, angering flight attendants. With the strike vote approved, the union can move to declare the negotiations deadlocked and trigger a 30-day cool-off period. After this, AFA Piedmont can declare a strike any time with no warning on as many flights as it likes.

American Eagle Flight Attendants Protest Getty
AFA has a trademark plan known as C.H.A.O.S, or Create Havoc Around Our System. This allows the unions to disrupt operations targetedly. Photo: Getty Images

Now, American Airlines could be facing a sudden loss of flights right before the holiday season, leading to thousands of angry passengers. Considering other airlines are also seeing staffing shortages and carrier’s incentivizing new hires, Piedmont’s flight attendants may also leave the airline. For now, it’s unclear if AFA will enact the strike or come to an agreement with the group first.

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Tough

It’s a difficult time for US airlines right now. While a full revenue recovery remains some ways away, profits are making a return, even excluding government support in some cases. This gives carriers some flexibility while making future plans, including on contracts.

However, with the pandemic still not behind us, things could change quickly and back into the red. For now, the AFA will closely be watching management’s reaction to the overwhelming strike vote and hoping to break the deadlock in its favor.

What do you think about AFA Piedmont’s strike vote? Let us know!

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