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Flight Attendant Union Just Issued This Warning About American Airlines

A concerning memo warns of serious consequences.

Although Covid is in retreat around the country and the demand for travel has roared back, the pandemic's sudden and intense disruption of the industry is still making ripples. And it's not just the customer experience that is being affected, but also the intricate systems behind the scenes that make passenger flights a day-to-day reality. Read on to learn the latest news related to the massive team of American Airlines flight attendants based around the country.

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The Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) announces nearly $3 million in outstanding unpaid dues.

American Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner airplane at Zurich airport (ZRH) in Switzerland. Boeing is an aircraft manufacturer based in Seattle, Washington.

The APFA, which represents American Airlines flight attendants, sent a concerning memo to its membership, dated Mar. 29. The message explains that there are 7,636 members behind in paying their dues—to the tune of $2,983,410.10 owed to the association. "That means that roughly 32 percent of our members are behind on their dues and are in bad standing," according to the memo.

Dallas-based flight attendants owe the largest chunk of money.

An American Airlines Boeing 767-300 with the registration N349AN taking off from Barcelona Airport (BCN) in Spain. American Airlines is the world's largest airline with 619 aircraft and 108 million passengers. It is headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas.

The memo includes a chart that lists the total balance outstanding by base airport. The largest outstanding sum on the list—nearly $700,000—is from Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW), which also has the largest number of members by far at 2,017. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) with 689 members also owes more than $300,000, as does LaGuardia (LGA) in New York City, with 940 members.

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The union's financial situation may not impact flyers, but poses a threat to delinquent flight attendants.

An American Airlines plane landing at an airport

The memo points out that the union's dues are the lowest in the flight attendant industry, having remained the same since 2002, even though the membership has seen a 14 percent increase in contractual wages.

It further explains that a little over 90 percent of members' dues go to the actual operation of the union. The other 10 percent goes to a mandatory restricted account for negotiations.

While the financial troubles of the flight attendants' association may not impact travelers, the memo states the potential consequences for members who don't pay up. For one thing, members who are not in good standing are ineligible to vote and attend union meetings.

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Flight attendants who don't pay their outstanding dues could lose their jobs at American.

American Airlines Airbus A319 (Registration No. N723UW) taking off at Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

But more ominously, the memo says that members who owe also risk losing their jobs. In a FAQ section, it addresses the contractual obligation to pay dues. It asks the question: "Does the contract address delinquent dues? Can I be terminated for not paying my dues?"And it answers that question plainly: "Yes, you can be terminated for not paying dues."

It excerpts this piece of the contract as supporting context: "The Secretary/Treasurer of the APFA shall notify the Flight Attendant, in writing, certified mail, return receipt requested, copy to the Vice President of Labor Relations of the Company, that she/he is delinquent in the payment of initiation fee and membership dues, as specified herein and, accordingly, is subject to discharge as an employee of the Company. Such letter shall also notify the Flight Attendant that she/he must remit the required payment within thirty (30) days of the date of the mailing of the notice, or be subject to discharge."

However, the memo does also acknowledge the challenges for many of its members as a result of pandemic disruptions, including furloughs. "The past few years have been a challenge for our members," and says that its constitution requires it "to provide payment arrangements to members returning to AA from an unpaid status if requested."

Members with financial difficulties will be required to sign a promissory note, which will remain in effect until the balance is paid in full.

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Alesandra Dubin
Alesandra Dubin is a lifestyle editor and writer based in Los Angeles. Read more
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