American Airlines strike threat grows

Bloomberg News / May 25, 2010

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DALLAS — American Airlines’ flight attendants union told its members it will reject any offer of arbitration in contract talks with the carrier, which could move the group closer to a strike.

The latest talks between the Association of Professional Flight Attendants and AMR Corp.’s American, ended Friday without an agreement.

The union, which represents 16,550 active-duty workers, expects the National Mediation Board to review this week its request to declare the talks deadlocked. If the board agrees, it would offer binding arbitration; a rejection by either side could trigger a 30-day cooling-off period before a strike. The board also has the authority to order additional talks.

“The APFA’s opinion is that we are at an impasse,’’ the union said on its website. “We have no intention of accepting the proffer of binding arbitration.’’

Under binding arbitration, both sides must agree in advance to accept a third party’s ruling. American and the union have been in talks since June 2008.

“American continues to believe a negotiated settlement is the best outcome for everyone,’’ said Missy Latham, a spokeswoman for the airline, but American would participate in binding arbitration.