US Airways Attendants Approve Strike After Rejecting Contract

US Airways Group Inc. (LCC) flight attendants voted to strike, once they are legally allowed to do so, after rejecting two contract agreements with the carrier.

Members of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA voted 94 percent to authorize a walkout, the AFA said today in a statement. The union is seeking an agreement that would unite attendants at US Airways and America West Holdings Corp. under one contract for the first time since their 2005 merger.

The attendants are pressing US Airways to conclude contract negotiations that would move them to a unified contract before pursuing a possible merger with bankrupt AMR Corp. (AAMRQ)’s American Airlines.

“US Airways flight attendants are determined to do whatever it takes to get our long overdue contract,” Roger Holmin and Deborah Volpe, presidents for the AFA unions at pre- merger US Airways and America West, said in the statement. “We may not fly together, but today we’ve made clear that we will walk out together.”

Union leaders called for the strike vote after a proposed five-year accord was rejected 51 percent to 49 percent in September. An earlier agreement was voted down in March.

“The National Mediation Board has not released the union to strike and, therefore, there will be no operational or flight disruptions during the holiday travel season,” Todd Lehmacher, a US Airways spokesman, said in an e-mail. “The union has told our flight attendants that the strike vote is about positioning at the bargaining table and not about striking.”

Separate Contracts

Negotiations were recessed by the National Mediation Board after the second rejection, Doug Parker, US Airways chief executive officer, said in October. Even with today’s vote, flight attendants cannot strike until their union moves through a series of steps required by the Railway Labor Act, which governs union-airline relations.

Attendants at US Airways and the former America West have continued to work under separate contracts with differing work rules, compensation and benefits. Parker has said US Airways won’t add more money to the contract in future talks.

US Airways, based in Tempe, Arizona, has signed labor agreements with unions at American that are contingent upon a merger of the two carriers.

US Airways has said it wants to combine with American while that carrier is reorganizing in bankruptcy. American, based in Fort Worth, Texas, has said it prefers to emerge on a stand- alone basis and then consider mergers.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mary Schlangenstein in Dallas at maryc.s@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ed Dufner at edufner@bloomberg.net

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