The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA), representing flight attendants at Piedmont Airlines, a US Airways Express carrier, has said in a press release that the reality of a strike at that carrier “appears to be drawing closer after continued stonewalling by management through contract negotiations.”
Based in Salisbury, MD, Piedmont (www.piedmontairlines.com) is a wholly owned subsidiary of US Airways; it is one of 10 regional US Airways Express carriers nationwide.
Employing 4,000, Piedmont operates nearly 440 daily departures to 55 cities throughout the eastern United States and Canada. All flights are operated with 44 deHavilland DHC-8 turbo prop aircraft.
The airline’s website says it employs 240 flight attendants. The flight attendant group said it’s been working to reach an agreement but “management has presented unreasonable proposals and has frequently made regressive proposals in bargaining.”
Anita Jwanouskos, president for AFA Piedmont, said the airline's flight attendants are standing up for their share in the success of the airline: “Our professional contributions have been instrumental for Piedmont and US Airways and we fully expect that those efforts be recognized.”
The release also said the flight attendants are “determined to do whatever it takes to get a contract that reflects their contributions to the airline,” mentioning that 98 percent of the employees have voted to authorize a strike.
Travel Agent talked with Andrew Christie, a spokesperson for US Airways and also for Piedmont Airlines, who then e-mailed us this statement: “This is a normal course of action during negotiations and is not indicative of any potential work stoppage. Piedmont Airlines and the AFA (Association of Flight Attendants) continue to be in negotiations with the assistance of the National Mediation Board. We value our flight attendants’ professionalism and dedication and look forward to continued negotiations with AFA.”
Most of Piedmont's flights operate at airports served by other US Airways and US Airways Express flights or other airlines, so even with any potential labor action in the future consumers may have some other options.
However, Salisbury, MD, Hilton Head, SC, Florence, SC, and New Haven, CT are all small airports where Piedmont is the only airline providing scheduled service.
Piedmont’s flight attendants have been in mediation talks with management since August 2011. The AFA group has asked the National Mediation Board (NMB) to release the parties into a 30-day "cooling-off" period.
The Piedmont AFA release characterized the timing as follows “The release could come at any time.” After the end of the cooling off period, the flight attendants have the right to strike.
In an action that shows the type of action air travelers might expect, the Piedmont AFA said: “At the end of the cooling-off period the flight attendants can begin CHAOS strike actions. CHAOS stands for Create Havoc Around Our System and includes a series of targeted, unannounced strikes.”
Under the Railroad Labor Act, which also governs airlines, airlines too have options after that 30-day cooling off period.
Those vary, but typically might include such actions as removing cherished employee perks such as free flight passes, replacing striking workers with trained management staff on certain flights, grounding certain flights or a "lock-out" of striking workers.
The Association of Flight Attendants (www.afacwa.org) is the world's largest flight attendant union. Nearly 60,000 flight attendants belong to AFA, part of the 700,000-member Communications Workers of America (CWA), AFL-CIO.
Piedmont's aviation history stretches back to 1931. The company has been providing scheduled passenger air service since 1962.