Flight attendants fake strike to make point

Contract negotiations between American Airlines and its flight attendants have stalled. So, the flight attendants kicked off a fake strike on Wednesday. At Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, they picketed, handed out leaflets and wore red badges, showing flights they feel couldn’t run without them. So, just think of how strong a real strike would have been! Similar protests were held at 12 other airports, as well.

Because of federal laws that intentionally make it difficult for airline industry employees to strike, the fake alternative was the best that could be summoned, at least on short notice. USA Today reports that gauging public support for a flight attendant strike is difficult, but union officials seem unwilling to roll the dice by disrupting flights, especially with the holiday season coming. Smart move: if fliers have demonstrated anything this year, it’s that they don’t give a shit about the airlines. They just want to get from Point A to Point B for as low a fare as possible.

And, public sentiment aside, it’s hard to draw blood from a stone. In less than two years, American’s parent company, AMR, has lost $3.2 billion, and revenue has taken a dive. So, what’s left for the flight attendants to demand?

The union and the airline have been trying to hash out a new contract since June 2008. The airline’s last pay cut came in 2003, at 33 percent. Since then, the flight attendants have picked up 1.5 percent annual pay raises — except in 2009, where compensation was stalled because the contract hasn’t moved.

American says they two sides have come to an agreement on around 75 percent of the items on the plate, but the union says the airline hasn’t put up a comp number yet. The flight attendants are pissed that they had to take a pay cut six years ago, while the airlines management continues to get sweetheart bonus deals.