AirTran flight attendants to picket at BWI

Unionized workers will protest contract negotiations with airline

February 11, 2011

Flight attendants for AirTran Airways plan to picket at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport and other locations over the next six weeks to protest what the workers view as stalled contract negotiations with the airline.

The workers, represented by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, say they are frustrated by a lack of progress in contract negotiations and will begin picketing on Monday at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. They plan the last of the protests on Friday, April 1, at BWI. If a tentative agreement is not reached by April 1, picketing will continue in six more cities, the union said in a statement.

Southwest Airlines made a bid in September to acquire AirTran Holdings for $1.4 billion. After the announcement, AirTran management requested a list of flight attendants' concerns to expedite negotiations, according to the union. AFA rejected management's proposal and filed for mediation services from the National Mediation Board.

"While we do not want to have to take our struggle to the street, our flight attendants deserve fair work rule improvements now," said Stephen Grimaldi, an AirTran flight attendant and AFA chairperson of flight attendant mobilization.

Christopher White, an AirTran spokesman, said the protests are "nowhere near a service interruption. We are continuing to work in good faith with our flight attendants on an agreement that works for them, for our company and for all our crew members."

The current contract is one that can be amended, White said. "Until a new agreement is reached, we are operating under the amendable agreement."

If the acquisition is approved, AirTran flight attendants would become members of the Transport Workers Union of America that represents Southwest flight attendants. In a statement Friday, Southwest flight attendants said they support the AirTran workers' efforts to reach a fair contract settlement with the airline management.

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