American Airlines flight attendants get new contract

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

The five-year pact, 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.

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

The union and American had agreed to let an arbitration panel determine a new joint contract if the two sides could not reach a deal within five months. Although management and the union did reach a tentative agreement in September that was worth $193 million more than the current contracts, flight attendants rejected the proposal by 16 votes out of 16,000 cast.

Profit-sharing has become an issue for several of the Fort Worth-based carrier’s union groups. Union leaders negotiated away profit-sharing plans in exchange for wage increases before American’s merger with US Airways. Some flight attendants wanted to see it added back into the joint contract now that the company is earning hundreds of millions of dollars.

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

The panel rejected all three requests, and the new pay rates will take effect Jan. 1.

This is the first joint contract bargaining agreement that American has reached with any of its union 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,” American spokesman Paul Flaningan said.

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

Andrea Ahles, 817-390-7631

Twitter: @Sky_Talk