The latest news on a possible Charlotte flight attendant strike

Flight attendants at Piedmont Airlines, a subsidiary of American Airlines that operates under American Eagle, are voting to authorize a strike.

Flight attendants at Piedmont Airlines, a subsidiary of American Airlines that operates under American Eagle, are voting to authorize a strike.

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One hundred percent of participating Piedmont Airlines flight attendants voted to allow their union to authorize a strike, the union said Thursday.

Some 130 Piedmontese flight attendants are based at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, in one of the airlines’ two crew bases.

Flight attendants and Piedmont supporters picketed following the strike vote at the other base on Thursday, outside the Philadelphia International Airport.

“The Piedmont flight attendants speak with one voice to demand that management take the resolution of our contract seriously,” Ketura Johnson, AFA Piedmont chairman, said in a statement on Thursday. “Flight attendants allowed Piedmont to fly during the pandemic… Piedmont flight attendants cannot afford to work in Piedmont.”

Piedmont Airlines operates an average of 66 daily flights from Charlotte Douglas International Airport in October, according to the airline. Piedmont is a subsidiary of American Airlines, the dominant carrier at CLT.

Piedmont Airlines operates nearly 400 daily flights across the eastern United States to more than 55 cities under the American Eagle brand.

The union that represents Piedmont Airlines flight attendants, the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, has been negotiating a contract with Piedmont Airlines for more than three years, according to the union.

But the union says negotiations stalled after management proposed minimum wage increases as well as higher health premiums – meaning employees would earn less at home overall.

What the vote means

The strike authorization vote does not mean that Piedmont Airlines flight attendants will immediately strike.

Instead, the vote gives the union permission to call a strike. After the vote, the union could ask the National Mediation Commission to declare the negotiations deadlocked, according to the AFA. The national council would release both parties within a 30-day “cooling off” period, which would lead to a strike delay.

The AFA did not say if or when it would seek action from the National Mediation Council.

The union’s “CHAOS” strike strategy, or “Creating havoc around our system,” could call for system-wide strikes, or a single flight without notice to management or passengers.

Piedmont Airlines told the Observer in a statement that it is committed to negotiating a contract with its more than 350 flight attendants.

“We have the most professional flight service professionals in the industry, and Piedmont is a leader in safety and performance because of their efforts,” Piedmont Airlines said in a statement Thursday. “We agree that our team members deserve the best contract and we are committed to offering it to them. We look forward to resuming negotiations in November.

About 75% of Piedmont Airlines flight attendants participated in the vote, with 100% of those employees in favor of authorization to strike.

How does this affect the Carolinas?

Piedmont Airlines serves 14 towns in the Carolinas, including Greensboro, Asheville, Fayetteville, Myrtle Beach, Columbia, Charleston and Hilton Head, SC

Piedmont also serves a number of non-stop destinations from CLT including: Greensboro, Asheville, Jacksonville and Greenville in North Carolina; Florence and Columbia in South Carolina; Augusta, Georgia; Knoxville and Chattanooga in Tennessee; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Rochester and Ithaca in New York; Lexington, Kentucky; Evansville, Indiana; Roanoke, Virginia; and Quebec City in Quebec, Canada.

And Piedmont Airlines operates an average of 17 flights per day to six other North Carolina airports: Asheville Regional Airport, Piedmont Triad International Airport, Pitt-Greenville Airport, Fayetteville Regional Airport, Wilmington International Airport and Albert J. Ellis Airport near Jacksonville.

The airline offers less than a dozen flights to five South Carolina airports: Columbia Metro Airport, Charleston International Airport, Florence Regional Airport, Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport and the Myrtle Beach International Airport.

This story was originally published October 21, 2021 3:36 pm.

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Hannah Smoot covers business in Charlotte, focusing on healthcare, aviation and sports. She has been covering COVID-19 in North Carolina since March 2020. She previously covered money and power at the Rock Hill Herald in South Carolina and is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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