Charlotte flight attendants vote to authorize strike. Here’s what it means for travelers

·3 min read

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

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

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

“Piedmont Flight Attendants are speaking with one voice to demand management get serious about resolving our contract,” Keturah Johnson, AFA Piedmont President, said in a statement Thursday. “Flight Attendants kept Piedmont flying through the pandemic... Piedmont Flight Attendants can’t afford to work at Piedmont.”

Piedmont Airlines is operating an average of 66 daily flights out of 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, 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 minimal pay increases along with higher health premiums — meaning employees would take home less overall.

What the vote means

The strike authorization vote doesn’t mean flight attendants at Piedmont Airlines will immediately strike.

Instead, the vote gives the union the authorization to call for a strike. After the vote, the union could request that the National Mediation Board declare the negotiations deadlocked, according to AFA. The national board would release both parties into a 30-day “cooling off” period, which would lead to a strike deadline.

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

The union’s strike strategy “CHAOS,” or “Create Havoc Around Our System,” could call for strikes affecting the entire system, or just one flight without notice to management or passengers.

Piedmont Airlines told the Observer in a statement that it is dedicated 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 are in agreement our team members deserve the best contract and we are committed to delivering that to them. We look forward to getting back to negotiations in November.”

Roughly 75% of Piedmont Airlines flight attendants participated in the vote, with 100% of those employees in support of the strike authorization.

How does this affect the Carolinas?

Piedmont Airlines flies to 14 cities in the Carolinas, including Greensboro, Asheville, Fayetteville, Myrtle Beach, Columbia, Charleston and Hilton Head, S.C.

Piedmont also flies to a number of destinations non-stop 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 a day out of six other N.C. 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 has less than a dozen flights out of five South Carolina airports: Columbia Metropolitan Airport, Charleston International Airport, Florence Regional Airport, Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport and Myrtle Beach International Airport.