The Negotiating Process

What happens when an airline and a union start negotiating? Lots of back and forth that could take years. The union makes negotiations sound exciting; they want you to feel like negotiating will always get you even more. But it’s hardly that easy.

What can I expect during the union contract negotiation process?

What is at risk during union negotiations?

How long would union negotiations take?

Would be voice be represented by a union?

Has a union ever negotiated for a flight attendant group our size?

Hitting the Pause Button

All kinds of improvements usually pause during negotiations for a first contract.

How many years will it take?

Nobody knows. The IAM has no experience negotiating an initial contract for a workgroup our size. Initial contract negotiations in the airline industry can take years. It took the IAM nearly 7 years to negotiate a first contract for 150 flight attendants at CommutAir. The IAM and AFA promise a lot, but for every request at the negotiations table, days of meetings may be needed to either reach agreement or “agree to disagree” more.

Unprecedented Numbers

At ExpressJet (2100 flight attendants), the IAM has been in negotiations for 6 years – and counting. Delta’s flight attendants are about 24,000. In fact, neither the IAM nor AFA have ever negotiated an initial contract for a workgroup our size.

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