The Association of Professional Flight Attendants said Thursday that American Airlines management had agreed to give its members an additional $81 million a year that they had rejected in a tentative agreement.
The money, in new, higher pay increases, will go into effect Jan. 1. American said flight attendants will get raises that are 6.5 percent higher on average than what they otherwise would have received.
“With this action behind us, we can look forward to the year ahead and beyond as one team,” American said in a prepared statement, “and with great momentum as we continue our integration plans.”
“Today’s announcement is the beginning of a new chapter,” the union said in a hotline message to members. “Bringing together two large work groups with very different cultures and contracts is an enormous task but together we have done exactly that in just over one year. We now turn our attention to implementing our joint collective bargaining agreement and enforcing the hard-fought provisions it contains.”
The joint contract covers flight attendants of US Airways and American, which merged Dec. 9, 2013.
The flight attendants and management had agreed to a process before the merger on how they would get to a joint contract. American and APFA agreed that the amount needed to bring both groups of flight attendants to industry standards would be $112 million more than the value of the separate US Airways and American contracts.
In negotiations, American and APFA agreed to a contract raising flight attendant costs by $193 million a year, $81 million more than the base amount. But APFA members, by 16 votes out of 16,376 cast, turned down the tentative agreement on Nov. 9.
As provided in the pre-merger agreement, the dispute then went to binding arbitration, with the contract’s value capped at $112 million. Last Saturday, the arbitration panel issued its decision on the final contract, including the $112 million in additional annual costs for American.
But APFA president Laura Glading sent a letter to chief executive officer Doug Parker last week asking him to consider giving the flight attendants the amount in the rejected contract, notwithstanding the vote.
Parker, president Scott Kirby and executive vice president Steve Johnson met with APFA leadership Thursday morning and worked out the agreement.
To head off future disputes, the APFA board also adopted a resolution that limited any contract adjustment that would be triggered if United Airlines Inc. and Continental Airlines Inc. get pay raises in a new contract. That resolution said the board had the power to adopt such language without having to send it out to members for a vote.
American is also talking to pilots about a joint contract. The Allied Pilots Association sent a “comprehensive counterproposal” to management Wednesday.