While this (hopefully) shouldn’t impact the passenger experience, I can’t help but find this to be surprising…
American flight attendants ~$3 million behind on union dues
The Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) represents American Airlines flight attendants. The union has just sent a note to members with a pretty shocking statistic. The union claims that:
- 7,636 flight attendants are behind on their union dues, representing around 32% of the membership
- Those flight attendants owe $2,983,410.10
- That means the average member who is behind on dues owes around $390
The union claims that dues are the lowest in the industry, and have been the same since 2002, even though the membership has seen a 14% increase in contractual wages. It’s also noted that over 90% of dues go to the actual operation of the union, and the other 10% go to a mandatory restricted account for negotiations, known as the Negotiations and Negotiations Related Fund (NNRF).
Obviously the pandemic has been financially challenging for many. Those who were on involuntarily unpaid leave during the pandemic won’t have to pay these outstanding dues for while they were gone. However, other members, including those who took a voluntary leave of absence, are still on the hook for all dues. The union claims it negotiated all leave agreements, so therefore members need to pay dues for the entire period they were gone.
Union threatens to have members fired
The note to flight attendants goes on to talk about what could happen if dues aren’t paid. Specifically, flight attendants could be terminated for not paying these dues, per the contract:
1. The Secretary/Treasurer of the APFA shall notify the Flight Attendant, in writing, certified mail, return receipt requested, copy to the Vice President of Labor Relations of the Company, that she/he is delinquent in the payment of initiation fee and membership dues, as specified herein and, accordingly, is subject to discharge as an employee of the Company. Such letter shall also notify the Flight Attendant that she/he must remit the required payment within thirty (30) days of the date of the mailing of the notice, or be subject to discharge.
2. If, upon the expiration of the thirty (30) day period, the Flight Attendant still remains delinquent, the APFA National President shall certify, in writing, to the Vice President of Labor Relations, copy to the Flight Attendant, that the Flight Attendant has failed to remit payment within the grace period allowed and is, therefore, to be discharged. The Vice President of Labor Relations shall then take proper steps to discharge such employee from the service of the Company.
3. A Flight Attendant discharged by the Company under the provisions of Paragraph F shall be deemed to have been discharged for cause within the meaning of the terms and provisions of this Agreement.
What happens to those who can’t pay their balance in full?
- Members who were on unpaid leave can take part in a payment arrangement, in the form of signing a promissory note, which will remain in effect until the balance is paid in full
- Meanwhile members who weren’t on unpaid leave need to pay the full amount, and are ineligible for payment arrangements
The dynamics here must be interesting…
I can’t help but note all the different interests at play here:
- Obviously the union and management often have different priorities
- I can’t imagine management wants to terminate any employees right now for unpaid dues, given that American doesn’t exactly have many spare flight attendants, especially ahead of the busy summer travel season
- The union also needs to remain popular with members, and if the union is coming after 32% of flight attendants, I can’t imagine members will be happy; that’s especially true given the scandals we’ve seen at APFA in the past
- Could we see more contention between union management and the rank-and-file flight attendants?
With such a strong warning, I guess we’ll find out how much of the roughly $3 million in dues gets paid down shortly.
The APFA claims that 32% of American Airlines flight attendants are behind on their union dues, to the tune of roughly $3 million. Flight attendants who don’t pay the balance in full (or set up a payment plan, if they were on involuntary unpaid leave) could be fired.
I’m curious to see how this plays out. Presumably many members haven’t been able to prioritize making these payments, especially if they were on unpaid leave.
How do you see this situation ending for the union and members?
(Tip of the hat to View from the Wing)