Industry Flight Attendant Discontent With Current Union Representation Rises

We have previously reported on efforts by a group of United flight attendants – the United Flight Attendants Association (UFAA) – to unseat their current union representative, the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA). These efforts continue, despite the recent narrow ratification of the first single collective bargaining agreement for United and Continental flight attendants.

Meanwhile, press reports indicate that about 6,000 Southwest flight attendants, represented by the Transport Workers Union (TWU), have signed a petition calling for the recall of their union board, including its president. It is unclear what effect, if any, the TWU’s recent announcement that it has reached an “agreement in principle” for a new contract with Southwest will have on these efforts.  Details of the tentative deal have not been published, and await approval by the TWU board before they can be presented to the membership for ratification.  The Southwest flight attendants overwhelmingly rejected a tentative agreement in the summer of 2015.

At Spirit Airlines, the entire Master Executive Council (MEC) of the AFA was recently recalled. This followed the May 2016 ratification of a new collective bargaining agreement after nine years of negotiations.

Finally, a group of Envoy (former American Eagle) flight attendants have established a new independent labor union, the Regional Flight Attendants of America (RFAA). Similar to UFAA, their stated goal is to replace AFA, first at Envoy and then at the rest of the AA regionals.  RFAA leaders stated: “Since the [AA] merger many – if not most – Envoy Flight Attendants have become disillusioned and dissatisfied with AFA-CWA, which is not meeting our needs and has grown way too big, too political, too autocratic and too expensive.”

Prior to the Delta merger, Northwest flight attendants were represented by three different unions – the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), the Professional Flight Attendants Association (PFAA) and AFA – before voting in favor of a direct relationship with Delta in 2010. At around the same time, all 5 groups that had been represented by the International Association of Machinists (IAM) at Northwest voted against continued IAM representation.


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