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Alaska Air Flight Attendants Frustrated By Slow Contract Talks

Ashley Gross
Flight attendants protest outside Alaska's shareholders meeting in May, 2013.

Alaska Airlines executives and flight attendants are back at the bargaining table this week with a federal mediator, but the workers say they’re frustrated by the slow pace of contract negotiations which have dragged on for almost three years. 

Union leaders and the company did reach a tentative deal late last year, but members rejected it.

Alaska has been citing growing competition from Delta Air Lines as a reason why it can’t agree to the terms the union wants, says Laura Masserant, an Alaska Airlines flight attendant and president of the local council of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA in Seattle. 

"If the company would just reinvest in us, we would have no problem going out there and stomping the competition and pushing them right back out of Seattle," Masserant said. 

The company, in a statement, said the rejected offer included generous pay increases. Alaska added the airline’s philosophy is to pay in the upper tier of the industry.

"We are dedicated to coming back to the table to work on an agreement that is fair, comprehensive and beneficial to our flight attendants and the company alike," the company said in the statement.

But Masserant says flight attendants were unhappy with several points of the offer rejected in February, namely the company's compensation offer and a proposal for slower accrual of employee sick leave.

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.