American Airlines flight attendants to picket at Phoenix Sky Harbor, other airports

File: American Airlines at MEM.
File: American Airlines at MEM.(Action News 5)
Published: Nov. 15, 2022 at 8:00 AM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- The union representing hundreds of American Airlines flight attendants announced that they will be picketing on Tuesday at 11 bases located at airports around the country, including Phoenix Sky Harbor.

In Phoenix, the picket is expected to happen around 11 a.m. Union members say they’re seeking better contracts that would improve employees’ work-life balance, which they say could improve the general reliability of the airline.

“American management has repeatedly stated that revenue and passenger demand has never been stronger,” said Julie Hedrick, National President of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants. “Flight Attendant work schedules are built to the limit with reduced rest, allowing for little leeway when weather events affect our hub cities and your flights. Operational recovery takes longer, and our crews and passengers suffer.”

Officials say crews are being asked to work long days with little rest. As flights become rescheduled, they say it’s leading to increasing exhaustion and call-outs. The union also claims more flight attendants are being asked to live in areas with a high cost of living.

Flight attendants from Boston, New York, Washington, DC, Charlotte, Miami, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Dallas are also expected to participate.

It comes on the wave of ongoing labor disputes in the aviation industry. Earlier this month, the Associated Press reported that a major pilots’ union, the Allied Pilots Association, voted 15-5 to reject an offer by American Airlines that included raises of 19% in three steps over two years.

Pickets by pilots have occurred recently, although less frequently. Federal law prohibits airline workers from striking unless federal mediators determine that further negotiations are pointless. The AP reports that Congress and the president can intervene to stop a walkout, which President Bill Clinton did back in 1997 during a similar dispute with American.

Airport food service workers have also been on the picket lines in recent months. At Phoenix Sky Harbor, dozens walked off the job just before the Thanksgiving holiday in 2021.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.