Flight attendants picket at Hartsfield-Jackson, other airports

Informational labor action takes place a dozens of airports worldwide
Airline employees picket outside of the North Terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024.   (Ben Gray / Ben@BenGray.com)

Credit: Ben Gray

Credit: Ben Gray

Airline employees picket outside of the North Terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024.   (Ben Gray / Ben@BenGray.com)

Flight attendants picketed at Hartsfield-Jackson International and more than 30 other airports around the world Tuesday to push for better pay and working conditions in contract negotiations.

Multiple flight attendant unions banded together for what they called a worldwide day of action, with off-duty workers conducting informational picketing.

Airline employees picket outside of the North Terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024.   (Ben Gray / Ben@BenGray.com)

Credit: Ben Gray

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Credit: Ben Gray

Flight attendants at Delta Air Lines are not unionized, though flight attendants at many other carriers are represented by unions, including the Association of Flight Attendants, Transport Workers Union and Association of Professional Flight Attendants. But Delta flight attendants and other non-organized workers are tempting targets.

At Southwest Airlines —the second-largest airline at Hartsfield-Jackson — flight attendants voted last December to reject a tentative agreement reached with the company, sending both sides back to the bargaining table.

In total, flight attendants have been in contract negotiations for five years, according to Alison Head, who represents the Atlanta base of Southwest flight attendants on the Transport Workers Union’s executive board. That means senior flight attendants at the top of the pay scale have not had a raise in five years, she said.

“We’re fighting for the value of our profession,” Head said. “We’re trained professionals dedicated to the safety of our passengers.”

Airline employees including Veronica Espinoza, a Southwest flight attendant, picket outside of the North Terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024.   (Ben Gray / Ben@BenGray.com)

Credit: Ben Gray

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Credit: Ben Gray

Southwest said in a written statement that the demonstration of off-duty flight attendants “will not affect our ability to take care of our customers.” The company said it is scheduled to meet with the the union and the National Mediation Board next week to continue working towards an agreement.

Flight attendants at Southwest have taken a vote to authorize union leaders to call a strike in the event that negotiations come to a head, but that doesn’t mean a strike is planned. The union is not legally authorized to strike as negotiations continue and until certain conditions are met. But, Head said, “We do want to picket to bring these concerns to the public.”

The unions said more than two-thirds of U.S. flight attendants are currently in labor contract negotiations, including at Southwest, Frontier, American, Alaska and United.