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U.S. Flight Attendants Fight For Improved Pay And Conditions

People inside of passenger plane

Flight attendants across the US are fighting for higher wages after pilots secured pay raises last year.

They gathered at numerous airports to demand better pay and conditions on Tuesday, February 13. 

Staff from United Airlines, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and others joined the picket line.

Sara Nelson, the president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, said: “We have been in a period of austerity for 20 years, and it’s time the industry paid up.”

The protests represent a unified effort by labor unions representing over 100,000 flight attendants.

After successful negotiations by pilots, autoworkers, Hollywood writers, and employees at major corporations like UPS, they aim to secure new labor agreements. 

The need for improved wages has become more pressing as living costs have surged.

Flight attendant salaries have remained stagnant since the onset of the pandemic.

Airlines such as American have remained optimistic about reaching agreements with workers shortly. 

Labor and fuel are the two most significant expenses for airlines, highlighting the impact of any wage adjustments. 

Flight attendants earn an average of $67,000 annually, though this figure varies widely based on experience and tenure.

The push for higher wages is partly driven by the challenges newer staff face with inflation. 

Unions are advocating compensation for the time flight attendants spend on board before departure.

Delta Air Lines implemented the practice in 2022 for its non-unionized flight attendants.

The pandemic intensified job stress due to increased passenger loads, reduced staffing, and encounters with unruly travelers. 

The likelihood of strikes in the aviation industry remains low due to regulatory constraints that require federal authorization for strike actions. 

Nevertheless, several flight attendant unions have signaled their readiness to strike, with ongoing negotiations facilitated by federal mediation.

Southwest Airlines staff have demonstrated discontent by rejecting a tentative agreement last year. 

The airline remains committed to reaching a consensus that benefits its flight attendants and the company.

It planned further negotiations with the assistance of the National Mediation Board.

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