Historic vote: Alaska Air cabin crew threatens first strike in three decades over contract dispute

For the first time in 30 years, Alaska Air flight attendants have given the green light for a strike mandate. This comes as thousands of cabin crew members from three unions staged protests for increased wages at airports in the United States, the UK, and Guam on Tuesday. The protesters included cabin crew from 24 airlines, including Alaska, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, and American Airlines. 


In the afternoon trade, Alaska Air's shares dropped by 2.1%. Southwest decreased by 0.9%, United Airlines plummeted by 3.9%, and American Airlines lost 2.2%. Of the 93.47% of Alaska Air flight attendants who participated - represented by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA) - 99.48% voted in favor of a strike, according to the airline. 

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Despite this, it's unlikely that U.S. flight attendants will strike due to the complex labor process that makes it difficult for airline workers to do so. However, this is the first mandate from Alaska since 1993, reflecting the wider labor demands for increased pay at a time when most U.S. cabin crew are negotiating contracts, according to the Association of Flight Attendants. While pilots from major airlines have secured new labor agreements that include significant pay increases and other benefits, some flight attendants haven't seen a pay raise in five years, says the AFA. 


Flight attendants from Southwest Airlines and Air Transat in Canada, both pushing for substantial pay increases, are in talks after rejecting previous offers. A Feb. 9 union memo to Transat flight attendants, seen by Reuters, revealed that a union-appointed adviser is "no longer at the bargaining table," following the rejection of two prior agreements by members. The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), which represents Transat flight attendants, stated that this change was due to internal union management and would not affect the ongoing negotiations.

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