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    Alaska flight attendants picket John Wayne Airport, LAX over wages
    • December 19, 2023

    Alaska Airlines flight attendants picketed John Wayne Airport and LAX on Tuesday, Dec. 19, saying they’re underpaid and not being compensated for the time they spend boarding, deplaning and waiting between flights.

    The employees, represented by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, announced they will begin gathering strike authorization votes on Jan. 8 amid stalled contract negotiations.

    Tuesday’s pickets and announcement are happening in conjunction with similar events at Alaska Airlines hubs across the country. Thousands of flight attendants were expected to turn out for a “nationwide day of action.”

    United Airlines flight attendants, also represented by AFA-CWA, picketed LAX last week for the second time over the same issues. Their rally was also part of a nationwide day of action demanding that United management negotiate a “fair” labor contract.

    Nearly 970 Alaska flight attendants are based out of LAX, although many fly in and out of John Wayne Airport in Orange County, Ontario International Airport and Hollywood Burbank Airport.

    “The mood is not good,” Alaska AFA President Tim Green said. “We’re tired of this disrespect from airline management. We’re committed to fight for our fair share.”

    Green said Alaska flight attendants earn a starting wage of $26,946 a year — about 20% less than competing airlines pay. And they’re not getting paid when they’re not flying but are still on the clock, he said.

    “Most of us live in Southern California, and it’s not enough to keep up with the high housing costs,” Green said. “Our wait between flights can sometimes be two to four hours. We need to be paid, whether we’re in the air or on the ground.”

    They’ve been in contract negotiations with the airline for more than a year, but talks have stalled over management’s “inadequate economic proposals,” flight attendants said.

    Just months after saying the flight attendant proposals were not “economically feasible,” Alaska management announced plans to purchase Hawaiian Airlines for $1.9 billion, the union said.

    “The truth is, Alaska management can afford an industry-leading contract,” said Jeffrey Peterson, president of the Alaska chapter of AFA-CWA. “We will not accept terms that leave us falling even further behind the industry for years to come.”

    In a Tuesday posting on its website, Alaska Airlines said it provided an updated economic offer in October that would put its flight attendants at or near the top of the industry in most areas, including pay.

    The proposal includes an immediate 15% pay increase and market rate adjustments to keep them in line with new contracts at other airlines, management said.

    “Contrary to union narratives, we do pay flight attendants for boarding time through a pay mechanism that was negotiated with the union in previous contract cycles,” the airline said. “We remain open to alternative pay structures proposed by the union during negotiations.”

    Alaska added that its acquisition of Hawaiian Airlines “does not impact our ability or desire to reach an agreement.”

    Timothy Trueman, AFA-CWA’s council vice president for Los Angeles and San Diego, said flight attendants are putting in lots of hours they’re not being paid for.

    “Even though their wages might seem high, they only get paid once the door closes on takeoff to when the plane rolls into the gate,” he said. “So at the end of the day, they might have worked 13 hours, but only gotten paid for seven.”

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    ​ Orange County Register