Flight attendants at one of AA’s regional carriers vote to strike, asking for better pay, benefits

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Flight attendants at one of American Airlines’ regional carriers voted to strike right before the busiest season of the year. Workers are asking for better pay and benefits.

Negotiations between Piedmont and its flight attendants have been going on for three years, and this week, every attendant who cast a ballot said enough is enough and voted to go on strike.

Dozens of regional jets depart and land at Charlotte Douglas International Airport every day. Piedmont owns it, and since 2018, flight attendants have been trying to get a raise.

“What I like to say is that Piedmont Flight Attendants cannot afford to work at Piedmont,” said Keturah Johnson, president of Piedmont’s flight attendant union. “We helped out during the pandemic, we’ve helped save jobs at the airlines, and the company is not hearing us when we are crying out for help.”

More than 300 attendants are members of the union. 75% of them voted during the strike vote, and 100% voted to go on strike.

Piedmont reportedly intends to continue negotiating with the union and hopes to reach a deal that would avert a strike.

If a strike comes, it could occur during the holiday travel season, and its ripples could be felt up and down the east coast.

Channel 9 spoke to some travelers who sympathize with the union and others who don’t like the idea of walking off the job.

“I think that’s a shame. People should be paid what they are worth, especially now with COVID,” said passenger Regina Bailey.

“To have them do that right now, I think it’s selfish,” passenger Sylvia Beveridge said.

If the labor relations board gives the OK for a strike, people would not see a mass exodus. Flight attendants use what’s called CHAOS, a system of small targeted strikes where attendants walkout in ways that can’t be predicted or planned for, creating a huge headache for the airline.

(WATCH BELOW: Staffing shortage forces Southwest Airlines to trim planned flights)