US Air workers threaten BWI

Flight attendants' action would halt 53 flights here


March 11, 2000|By Robert Little | Robert Little,SUN STAFF

Flight attendants for US Airways threatened to walk out yesterday on as many as 53 daily flights from Baltimore-Washington International Airport unless they reach agreement on a new employment contract with the airline by March 25.

But the Arlington, Va.-based carrier countered by repeating its promise to shut the entire airline down rather than subject its customers to a strike.

The Association of Flight Attendants released a long list of flights it plans to target with its "chaos" campaign of unannounced walkouts, all of them clustered around cities, like Baltimore, in which US Airways has a large presence. From BWI, the union will target flights to 11 airports, including five in Florida.

"Hopefully, passengers will see this list and realize they have options," said Lynn Lenosky, head of the union's US Airways division. "If we strike, it's because management hasn't given the flight attendants an option."

US Airways officials, in a statement released to the media, responded by saying they were "singularly focused" on reaching an agreement before the March 25 deadline, but that the airline "will not operate under the threat of constant disruption."

The airline has offered employment contracts to all of its unions promising salaries 1 percent higher than those paid by the country's top four airlines. The other unions have signed them, but the flight attendants say the formula would amount to a 4.9 percent decrease in pay.

The union also is asking for more pension benefits and changes in the way the pension plan is administered.

"We're not interested in going backward," said union spokeswoman Cynthia Kain. "This company has made a healthy profit the last five years and it can afford to provide decent jobs."

As airline employees, the flight attendants are governed by the federal Railway Labor Act, which dictates the circumstances under which the union can strike. After three years of failed negotiations, the union is in the middle of a 30-day "cooling-off" period that ends at midnight March 24, after which members are free to legally strike or take other job-related action.

The airline and the union are scheduled to resume talks March 17, in meetings overseen by the National Mediation Board.

If the talks fail, the flight attendants say they plan to conduct an unpredictable strike campaign of walking off certain flights unannounced. They said the list of targeted cities was issued yesterday so passengers can plan ahead.

The union said it selected routes that are flown by US Airways' competitors. All the routes targeted at BWI are served by the airline's prime competitor in the region, Southwest Airlines.

Flights targeted at BWI include any service to or from New Orleans; Los Angeles; San Francisco; Providence, R.I.; Manchester, N.H.; Cleveland and cities in Florida -- a total of 53 daily flights on most days.

The union also announced plans to disrupt service at other hubs, including Washington-Dulles International Airport and airports in Boston, Philadelphia and Charlotte, N.C.

Walkout targets

US Airways routes between Baltimore and the following cities that flight attendants say they may strike at random:

Manchester, N.H.

Providence, R.I.


Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Jacksonville, Fla.

Los Angeles


New Orleans

Orlando, Fla.

San Francisco

Tampa, Fla.

Source: Associated Press

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