Nov 20 Flight attendants at US Airways Group Inc
, looking to bring more pressure on the carrier to reach
a contract agreement, voted by a 94 percent margin to authorize
a strike, their union said on Tuesday.
The workers, represented by the Association of Flight
Attendants-CWA, twice this year voted down a proposed contract
with US Airways, which is in talks with bankrupt American
Airlines parent AMR Corp about a potential merger.
The union's negotiating committee said it would take its
proposal for better economic terms, backed up by the strike vote
authorization, to the U.S. National Mediation Board and press
for additional mediation sessions in hopes of reaching a joint
contract that workers would ratify.
Federal law makes it difficult for airline unions to strike.
Mediators would have to declare an impasse and release the
parties from talks in order to begin the countdown to a strike.
"Other than understandable frustration on the part of the
flight attendant group, there's really no near-term
implications" of the strike vote, said Robert Mann, an airline
consultant based in Port Washington, N.Y.
The present US Airways, which has about 6,700 flight
attendants, was formed from a 2005 merger with America West
Airlines. Flight attendants at the combined carrier have been
working under separate contracts for years as their union has
negotiated to reach a joint agreement.
"We don't want to strike," union leaders who represent the
former America West and US Airways flight attendants said in a
statement on Tuesday. "Profits are soaring, but flight
attendants still shoulder the sacrifices forced through
bankruptcy a decade ago as well as disparate, industry-low pay
of a first contract from 1999."
In an emailed statement, US Airways said federal mediators
have not released the flight attendants union to strike, so
there will be no operational disruptions during the holiday
"The union has told our flight attendants that the strike
vote is about positioning at the bargaining table and not about
striking, and the union has not requested that the National
Mediation Board cease the mediation and negotiations process,"
the carrier's statement added.
Shares of US Airways rose 3.5 percent to $12.49 on Tuesday.