Austin/ Retail & Industry
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Published on June 14, 2024
Flight Attendants at Austin Airport Rally for Better Pay and Conditions Amid Ongoing NegotiationsSource: Unsplash / Kenny Eliason

As summer travel heats up, flight attendants aren't standing by idly. They're on the picket lines — dozens of them — at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (ABIA) and other major airports around the globe. In Austin, where rallying cries for better pay and conditions can be heard, the Association of Flight Attendants represents a frustrated workforce. According to CBS Austin, Elizabeth Hibbard, the union's president for Austin and Houston, called out what she labeled as "corporate greed," highlighting the poverty some flight attendants face while executives pocket hefty bonuses. "The corporate bonuses, all the executive bonuses, and we have flight attendants on food stamps," Hibbard said. "And we're all making the same demands of our corporations: that they bring us deals now."

Flight attendants, who are only paid when the cabin door is shut, often find themselves working without pay during the boarding process — a fact the union members are looking to change. Demanding recognition for the work done on the ground, these flight attendants have not seen a pay raise for years, and patience is wearing thin. "Flight attendants haven't had a raise in years," Hibbard told CBS Austin, indicating a prolonged battle for fairness at the bargaining table.

Support isn't lacking, with more than 30 senators recently stepping in to urge the National Mediation Board to tackle the drawn-out negotiations. As reported by KVUE, they have called on the board to quicken the mediation process and, failing resolution, to allow the flight attendants to strike. "We want the flying public to know they're going to get better service if they have better paid and fairly paid flight attendants, just like any other workers," stated Hibbard during an interview, echoing the concerns of fellow union members.

The pressure these attendants exert comes in the wake of airline companies reporting record-high earnings earlier this year. With the economic leverage seemingly in their favor, the attendants and their advocates are pushing for airlines to adjust their pay practices — specifically, the definition of what constitutes "on the clock" time. Despite widespread support and the critical role of flight attendants in the airline industry, it remains unclear what the impact of the dispute will be on the peak summer travel season. However, one thing is evident: Flight attendants across the board are adamant about not letting this issue fly under the radar any longer.