Flight attendants for American Airlines have requested federal approval to end contract talks – a step towards the first strike at a major US carrier in five years. If the National Mediation Board agrees, it would start a 30-day clock ticking. After that the union might be allowed to strike. No large US carrier has suffered a strike since 2005, when 4,200 Northwest Airlines mechanics and aircraft cleaners walked off the job.
American’s unions took big pay cuts in 2003 to keep the airline out of bankruptcy. The flight attendants (and mechanics, who last week also requested to end contract talks) want at least some of that compensation back. American is offering raises, but the union says the airline wants to keep overall costs flat.
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