On Tuesday, the Association of Flight Attendants – CWA, the union representing 6,700 US Airways flight attendants, voted to authorize a strike. The tally: 94 percent in favor.
There’s still considerable negotiation and mediation ahead for the union and the airline, so there’s no expectation that a strike would take place in the immediate future. But the vote, and its overwhelming outcome, is bad news for US Airways’ customers, and for US Airways’ dogged pursuit of American in what amounts to a hostile takeover.
Fasten Your Seat Belts
For flyers, the escalation of tensions between the flight attendants and management can only undermine customer service levels, which ultimately depend on a motivated, enthusiastic workforce.
The timing couldn’t be worse. As we head into the extra-busy holiday travel period, with planes running at close to 100 percent of capacity, comfort will be scarce as space in the overhead bins, and tension and exasperation will spike. Adding disgruntled workers to the mix is hardly a recipe for holiday cheer.
US Air’s Merger Management
The inability of US Airways to settle issues that harken back to its merger with America West, in 2005, raises doubts about US Airways’ ability to mesh its various worker groups with those of American in the event its merger bid is successful.
According to the union’s statement, “US Airways Flight Attendants are determined to do whatever it takes to get our long overdue contract. Parker and his team of negotiators have failed to address the issues that Flight Attendants believe are paramount for a single contract. Seven years after the supposed merger of America West and US Airways this management hasn’t gotten it done. That means pre-merger America West and US Airways Flight Attendants still don’t work together. We may not fly together, but today we’ve made clear that we will walk out together if Parker pushes this to a strike deadline.”
US Airways’ failure to address this long-festering labor issue should give the bankruptcy court overseeing American’s restructuring pause in considering US Airways’ merger bid. And it’s yet another reason for American customers to fear a merger with US Airways.
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