AirTran, Workers Sign Contract
ATLANTA (AP) _ AirTran and its flight attendants agreed on a four-year contract Saturday, ending a threat of walkouts that could have grounded flights during the busy Labor Day travel weekend.
The tentative agreement gives the Orlando, Fla.-based carrier’s 500 flight attendants an immediate 10 percent raise, plus annual 4 percent raises.
The flight attendants have been working without a contract since they organized three years ago as employees of what was then ValuJet Airlines.
``It’s a really good first step,″ said Jeff Zack, spokesman for the Association of Flight Attendants. ``They’ve never enjoyed the protections and guarantees of a legally binding contract and it starts to put AirTran flight attendants in line with the rest of the industry.″
``We’re pleased to continue to build the airline without any distractions,″ said D. Joseph Corr, AirTran’s president and chief executive officer.
The contract, which would take effect Oct. 31 if ratified, specifies additional pay for supervising flight attendants. The two sides had clashed over which flight attendants would be eligible for the higher pay, with the company agreeing to extend it to all of the attendants, Zack said.
The attendants’ threatened random walkouts could have stranded travelers on any of the 284 flights from 37 cities that AirTran serves, although company officials had promised to cover every flight with other workers.
AirTran reserved about 200 employees to serve as emergency flight attendants and won approval to fly its 42 DC-9s with only two flight attendants if necessary. AirTran operates 51 aircraft.