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Flight attendants in Alaska have provisional “record contract”

Currently, flight attendants at most major U.S. airlines are trying to reach new contracts (except Delta, where flight attendants are not unionized). Flight attendants have largely not received raises since the pandemic and are now seeking significant increases to account for the inflation we've seen over the past few years.

In April, Southwest flight attendants were the first to ratify a new contract. In terms of raises, back pay, and more, it's probably the most lucrative flight attendant contract we've ever seen.

There is now positive news for another US airline: Alaska flight attendants have now tentatively agreed to a new contract that should improve working relations at the Seattle-based Oneworld airline.

Alaska flight attendants reach new tentative agreement

The Association of Flight Attendants (CWA), which represents Alaska's flight attendants, has just announced that it has reached a tentative agreement with Alaska management on a “record contract.”

The union says this tentative agreement was reached with the help of the National Mediation Board (NMB), which held negotiations last week in Washington, D.C., with AFA International President Sara Nelson and AFA General Counsel and Alaska Chief Operating Officer Constance von Muehlen in attendance.

Exact details of the contract have not yet been announced. The union states that in the coming days both parties will “work to clarify the contract language in order to present the full text of the TA to the Master Executive Council.” The Master Executive Council will then vote on whether to release the agreement for all members to vote on.

In February 2024, Alaska flight attendants voted to strike, with 99.48% of participants voting in favor of a strike (and 93.47% of flight attendants participating in the vote), so it's good to see that there is finally some common ground between management and the union.

However, I would not assume that members will necessarily ratify the new contract. For example, Southwest flight attendants rejected the first tentative contract the union presented to them during negotiations and only ratified the second contract after additional improvements were made.

Flight attendants in Alaska fight for new contract

I am curious how lucrative this contract is

Interestingly, the union is calling the tentative agreement a “record deal.” Does that mean it's the most lucrative contract ever negotiated in the entire industry, or is it simply a record for the airline (which would be obvious)?

The reason I ask is that historically, Alaska hasn't exactly had the best pay in the industry. The airline has paid much better than ultra-low-cost carriers, but not consistently at the same level as airlines like Southwest.

Southwest flight attendants have signed a new contract that gives them an immediate 22% raise and a 3% raise in 2025, 2026 and 2027. They will also receive backdated pay, which amounts to around $18,000 per flight attendant. Does this mean Alaska flight attendants will get even more lucrative contracts?

With a second airline now on the verge of a new contract, this should also help American's flight attendants get a new contract, as negotiations over a new contract have been the most hostile at American.

I am curious to see how lucrative this new contract is

Bottom line

The Alaska flight attendants union has announced that a tentative agreement has been reached for a new “record contract.” The details are expected to be announced in the next few days, so it will be interesting to hear the details.

The fact that flight attendants at a second U.S. airline are close to signing a new collective bargaining agreement is good news. This should ease the current negotiation cycle and provide stability for passengers (though it may be somewhat less stable for airlines' bottom lines).

What do you think about Alaska flight attendants reaching a tentative agreement on a new contract?

Anna Harden

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