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American Airlines management and flight attendants summoned to Washington

Rich Thomaselli

Could the power of the US government break the deadlock?

Is the aura of the federal capital enough?

American Airlines management and the flight attendants’ union were called to Washington on Saturday for a rare meeting of the National Mediation Board. Such weekend meetings are unusual, but this meeting should end the years-long battle between the two sides and prevent a strike.

By law, flight attendants are not allowed to strike until they receive permission to do so after a 30-day cooling-off period.

But this rare occurrence alone is a sign that we are approaching that point.

The National Mediation Board is a three-member federal panel that oversees the nation’s airlines and railroads. American Airlines flight attendants voted to strike over two years ago, but the National Mediation Board successfully blocked that prospect and allowed no action.

But the situation has become so serious that even Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and acting Labor Secretary Julie Su have intervened in the negotiations.

“After weeks of intense mediation efforts broke down last week, your APFA bargaining team continued to aggressively advance our position that American Airlines flight attendants need a contract that addresses our concerns,” the union said in a statement. “It is long past time for American Airlines management to end these negotiations and agree to the contract we deserve.”

American Airlines had already made an offer to the flight attendants earlier this month, which was apparently rejected.

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