Airlines Flight Attendants Unable To Reach Agreement
January 24, 2010 -
After eleven consecutive days of bargaining, the Association of
Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) and American Airlines have not
reached an agreement. The Federal Mediator overseeing the negotiations
has directed the parties to resume lockdown negotiations for five days
"We have worked
extremely hard and bargained in good faith over eleven days, but there
has been no movement on key issues. After more than 100 bargaining
sessions over the past twenty-one months, American remains intent on
increasing the more than $2 billion in concessions the Flight Attendants
have given up since 2003", said APFA President Laura Glading. "It's time
for management to recognize the sacrifices made by Flight Attendants and
for American to put proposals on the table that improve our wages,
benefits and working conditions."
If no agreement is reached during this second lockdown session, APFA
will ask the National Mediation Board (NMB) to initiate a 30-day
cooling-off period - the final step before employees can resort to job
actions. "Flight Attendants are unified and determined "Glading stated,
"we remain prepared to take the necessary steps to get a contract that
our members will readily ratify."
In a 21st century twist on picketing, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) has launched a Virtual Picket Line on the internet to drum up public support for their struggle to get a fair contract as the union and American management hold contract negotiations. To date, several thousand supporters signed on to walk the online picket.
“We are using modern technology to allow people to show their solidarity
for American Airlines Flight Attendants,” said APFA President Laura
Glading. “As we take part in these intense negotiations …, the power of
the Internet has enabled our army of supporters to virtually walk the
picket line with us.
In 2003, when
American Airlines found itself in financial trouble, Flight Attendants
helped bail them out by providing $340 million annually in cost savings.
Benefits and pay have shrunk by 33 percent for Flight Attendants since
then, but the airline’s top five executives have taken
multimillion-dollar bonuses and salary increases totaling more than
2,500 times the gains of Flight Attendants since the agreement.
“We remain hopeful that we will reach an agreement in our negotiations this month,” said Glading. “However, we are prepared to do whatever is needed to restore our pay, benefits and the respect we deserve. We will not back down.”
The role of a
flight attendant ultimately derives from that of similar positions on
passenger ships or passenger trains, but it has more direct involvement
with passengers because of the confined quarters and often shorter
travel times on aircraft. Additionally, the job of a flight attendant
revolves around safety to a much greater extent than those of similar
staff on other forms of transportation. Flight attendants on board a
flight collectively form a cabin crew, as distinguished from pilots and
engineers in the cockpit.
The first flight
attendant, a steward, was reportedly a man on the German Zeppelin LZ10
Schwaben in 1911. Origins of the word "steward" in transportation are
reflected in the term "steward" as used in maritime transport
terminology. The term purser and chief steward are often used
interchangeably describing personnel with similar duties among seafaring
derivation results from the international British maritime tradition
dating back to the 14th century and the civilian United States Merchant
Marine which US aviation is somewhat modeled. Due to international
conventions and agreements, in which all ships' personnel who sail
internationally are similarly documented by their respective countries,
the U.S. Merchant Marine assigns such duties to the chief steward in the
overall rank and command structure of which pursers are not positionally
represented or rostered.
The first female
flight attendant was a 25-year-old registered nurse named Ellen Church.
Hired by United Airlines in 1930, she also first envisioned nurses on
aircraft. Other airlines followed suit, hiring nurses to serve as
"stewardesses" on most of their flights. The requirement to be a
registered nurse was relaxed at the start of World War II, as many
nurses enlisted into the armed forces.
The majority of a
flight attendant's duties are safety related. Prior to each flight,
flight attendants attend a safety briefing with the pilots and purser.
During this briefing they go over safety and emergency checklists, the
locations and amounts of emergency equipment and other features specific
to that aircraft type. Boarding particulars are verified, such as
special needs passengers, small children travelling as unaccompanied
minors or VIPs.
are discussed including anticipated turbulence. Prior to each flight a
safety check is conducted to ensure all equipment such as lifevests,
flashlights and firefighting equipment are on board, in the right
quantity, and in proper condition. Any unserviceable or missing items
must be reported and rectified prior to takeoff. They must monitor the
cabin for any unusual smells or situations and maintain certain
precautions such as keeping doors disarmed or open during fuelling on
the ground. They assist with the loading of carry-on baggage, checking
for weight, size and dangerous goods. They then must do a safety
demonstration or monitor passengers as they watch a safety video
demonstrating the safety features of the aircraft. They then must
"secure the cabin" ensuring tray tables are stowed, seats are in their
upright positions, armrests down and carry ons stowed correctly and
seatbelts fastened prior to takeoff. All the service between boarding
and take-off is called Pre Take off Service.
must conduct cabin checks every 20–30 minutes, especially during night
flights to check on the passengers, and listen for any unusual noises or
situations. Checks must also be done on the lavatory to ensure the smoke
detector hasn't been deactivated, there are no issues with the
equipment, nobody having trouble in there or smoking, and to restock
supplies as needed. Regular cockpit checks must be done to ensure the
pilot's health and safety. They must respond immediately to call lights
dealing with special requests and smaller emergencies including a wide
variety of in-flight emergencies that do happen from time to time.
crosschecks must be conducted and during severe turbulence all service
equipment must also be stowed. Prior to landing all loose items, trays
and garbage must be collected and secured along with service and galley
equipment. All hot liquids must be disposed of. A final crosscheck must
then be completed prior to landing. They must remain aware as the
majority of mechanical emergencies occur during takeoff and landing.
Upon landing, flight attendants must remain stationed at exits and
monitor the airplane and cabin as passengers disembark the plane. They
also assist any special needs passengers and small children off the
airplane and escort children, while following the proper paperwork and
ID process to escort them to the designated person picking them up.
are highly trained for a wide variety of emergencies and how to respond.
More frequent situations may include a bleeding nose, illness, small
injuries, intoxicated passengers, aggressive and anxiety stricken
passengers. Emergency training includes rejected takeoffs, emergency
landings, cardiac and in-flight medical situations, smoke in the cabin,
fires, depressurization, on-board births and deaths, dangerous goods and
spills in the cabin as well as land and water landings including the
preparation of passengers and the cabin, the emergency evacuation with
evacuation slides or rafts and then the follow-up survival skills which
include environments as open water, jungle, water, tropical and Arctic
climates, along with a variety of emergency equipment. Flight attendants
are now also given basic training on defense against terrorist attacks.
mandate the presence of flight attendants on commercial aircraft, based
on the passenger capacity of the aircraft and other factors. This
mandate generally relates only to their function as safety technicians.
The main and
always primary duty of a flight attendant is for safety but they do also
provide a care giving and customer service role on board commercial
flights. Customer service duties include the preparation and serving or
selling of on-board food and beverage. Flight attendants also offer
comfort items including blankets, pillows, hot towel service, handing
out headsets, magazines, newspapers, amenity kits, games and on certain
airlines hand out pajamas and set up and make the lie flat beds. They
also distribute customs forms on international flights and assist
passengers with their proper completion prior to landing.
Service Manager (ISM), Cabin Service Manager (CSM). The title
associating with this crew member differs from airline to airline. These
crew are mainly found on larger aircraft types and are in charge of the
running of the cabin. They report when the cabin is secure for takeoff
and landing, deliver on-board announcements and any broken or missing
emergency equipment items to the pilots after the preflight check. They
generally operate the doors during routine flights as well as hold the
manifest and account for all money and required paperwork and reports
for each flight. 2-4 Senior Crew Members may also be on board the larger
In-flight Service Managers are flight attendants that have been promoted through the ranks- Flight attendant → Senior crew member → Purser → In-flight Service Manager. To reach this position the crew member must have had a mandatory amount of service years within the airline or airlines prior to changing airline. Further training is mandatory, and In-flight Service Managers typically earn a higher salary than flight attendants because of the added responsibility.
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