MIAMI — Flight attendants at American Airlines rejected a new contract by a vote of 8196 to 8180, with only 16 votes separating the sides. Leaders of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) said the next step is to submit outstanding issues to binding arbitration.

A flight attendant on American Airlines' Boeing 777-300 inaugural flight.(Credits: Chris Sloan)
A flight attendant on American Airlines’ Boeing 777-300 inaugural flight. (Credits: Chris Sloan)

The vote totals broke down among the carrier’s five largest bases:

  • Charlotte, 828 yes to 888 no;
  • Dallas/Fort Worth,1010 yes to 829 no;
  • JFK, 417 yes to 614 no;
  • Philadelphia, 854 yes to 772 no; and
  • Phoenix, 1057 yes to 558 no.

Not surprisingly, American flight attendants at the carrier’s home base, DFW, voted for the contract.  Those at US Airways’ Phoenix headquarters voted for the contract, while flight attendants at the Charlotte hub voted no.

“It is extremely disappointing to see the improvements our membership was set to receive rejected by such a narrow margin,” said APFA President Laura Glading in a statement. “However, the APFA is above all a democratic organization and the will of the membership is paramount.”

In its own statement, American expressed disappointment with the outcome. “This tentative agreement included industry-leading pay and benefits, and would have provided considerably more economic value and much better work rules than the contract that will be determined by arbitration.  And the joint collective bargaining agreement determined by arbitration will be imposed without ratification-meaning flight attendants won’t have any say in the process. Next steps are to meet with the APFA to prepare for that arbitration process, which is scheduled to begin next month.”

Hopes were high for the contract when APFA unveiled the tentative agreement on September 19, calling it an “an industry-leading” contract for the 24,000 flight attendants of American and US Airways.

Glading at the time praised her APFA team for being tenacious and well-prepared. She also credited the American Airlines management team for stepping up in negotiations. In a statement, Chairman and CEO Doug Parker called the tentative agreement was “another step forward in our integration.”

As per APFA’s Negotiations Protocol Agreement, outstanding contract issues are now being submitted for binding arbitration, which will begin on December 3. Until that process is completed, both work groups will continue to work under their current contracts.