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American flight attendants get a new contract

American Airlines flight attendant Evelyn McCandless prepares a jet before a flight to San Francisco in February at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport.
American Airlines flight attendant Evelyn McCandless prepares a jet before a flight to San Francisco in February at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport. Star-Telegram archives

American Airlines flight attendants have a new contract after a Saturday ruling from an arbitration panel.

The new five-year contract, which covers 24,000 flight attendants at American and US Airways, includes pay raises but does not have “me-too” clauses for profit-sharing and health insurance that the Association of Professional Flight Attendants had asked the seven-member arbitration panel to add to the contract.

“In both cases, the panel found that the inclusion of these provisions would push the added value of the JCBA beyond the market-based aggregate of $112 million,” the union told its members in a message sent on Saturday.

The APFA and American had previously agreed to allow an arbitration panel to determine a new joint contract for the flight attendants if the two sides were unable to reach a deal within a predetermined 5-month period. Although management and the union did reach a tentative agreement in September that was worth $193 million more than the current flight attendant contracts, the flight attendants rejected the contract by 16 votes out of 16,000 cast.

Profit-sharing has become an issue for several union groups at the Fort Worth-based carrier. Union leaders negotiated away profit-sharing plans in exchange for wage increases prior to American's merger with US Airways. Some flight attendants wanted to see it added back into the proposed joint contract now that the company is earning hundreds of millions of dollars, but it wasn't.

The contract awarded by the panel is worth $112 million which both parties agreed to prior to a December 3 arbitration hearing. During the hearing, the union asked for the two “me-too” clauses and for a Dec. 2 effective date for wages.

The panel disagreed with all three requests and the new pay rates for the flight attendants will go into effect on January 1, 2015.

This is the first joint contract bargaining agreement that American has reached with any of its unionized work groups since closing its merger with US Airways last December.

“We respect the arbitrators' decision and will work with the APFA to implement the new joint contract that provides wage increases and other improvements to the existing contract,” said American spokesman Paul Flaningan.

American is currently in contract talks with its pilots union with the Allied Pilots Association board expected to discuss a possible tentative agreement next week.

Andrea Ahles, 817-390-7631

Twitter: @Sky_Talk

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