Dozens of American Airlines flight attendants declared their “love AAfair is over!” as they picketed outside of the Fort Worth-based carrier’s headquarters on a rainy Valentine’s Day.
The Association of Professional Flight Attendants said management has been too slow in implementing a joint contract that American and US Airways flight attendants signed in 2014 after the airlines merged. American and US Airways announced their merger on Valentine’s Day in 2013.
“We waited for four years and we still have a long way to go before we combine the two workgroups together,” said APFA president Bob Ross. “We have several issues that still need to be addressed and the passengers, the flight attendants and the employees at American seem to be the last consideration in this merger.”
Wearing red ponchos and carrying signs saying “broken promises” and “merger mayhem,” flight attendants waved at passing cars on Amon Carter Boulevard and received honks from supporters, including a Fort Worth Fire Department truck.
DFW-based flight attendant Justin Hammer said he doesn’t feel like upper management cares about the flight attendants and their issues. Hammer said he was one of hundreds of flight attendants who had rashes from an allergic reaction to the new uniforms debuted in September.
“I want better pay and I want better work rules,” Hammer said. “The care factor is not there.”
American Airlines spokesman Matt Miller noted that since the merger, flight attendants have received pay increases of 27 percent on average. However, the carrier is still working on implementing an integrated flight operating system for flight attendants.
“We recognize pay is the most basic responsibility to our team, however, implementing the new joint contract between both legacy flight attendant workgroups will provide all of the benefits of our merger,” Miller said. “We continue to work closely with the Association of Professional Flight Attendants to implement this new contract and fully realize all of the benefits of our merger for our flight attendant team.”
The union also held picketing events at the airline’s hubs in Miami, Los Angeles and Charlotte. Another critical issue for flight attendants is frequent computer issues that have shut down bidding and scheduling systems and demanding trip schedules that ignore flight attendants’ quality of life.
“If you can implement the items in the other employee contracts you can certainly try harder to implement ours,” said Liz Geiss, a DFW-based flight attendant who has worked for American for 30 years. “We have been put on the back burner.”
Flight attendants also said they lag the industry in pay and profit-sharing while the company continues to report record profits. In 2016, American reported profits of $2.68 billion and set aside $314 million in a profit-sharing plan for its 100,000 employees.
“We are the face of the company,” said a DFW-based flight attendant who declined to give her name. “We are on these flights with passengers making sure they are taken care of.”