Comair to Cut Flight Attendant Wages

The Associated Press
Tuesday, October 10, 2006; 12:57 AM

CINCINNATI -- After failed negotiations with the union, Delta subsidiary Comair will unilaterally cut wages and change work rules for its 970 flight attendants on Nov. 15, the company said.

The flight attendants have threatened to go on strike if the regional-jet airline imposed concessions, and the company said Monday that it will seek an order to prevent the union from engaging in any type of work action, such as a strike or a work slowdown.

The flight attendants' union, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, wouldn't comment on whether the flight attendants would go on strike Nov. 15 if concessions are imposed.

"We have lots of options at our disposal, including court actions and other things, and we will continue using every one of them," said Connie Slayback, president of Local 513 of the flight attendants union.

Comair's action comes more than two months after a federal bankruptcy judge gave Comair permission to throw out its contract with the flight attendants. Comair was seeking concessions of $7.9 million a year as part of a package of cuts from its flight attendants, pilots and mechanics.

"We believe that any such action would be illegal and that a judge's decision in recent weeks to block a strike by Northwest Airlines flight attendants further strengthens our position," Comair President Don Bornhorst said in a memo to employees Monday.

Like its parent Delta Air Lines Inc., Comair is reorganizing in bankruptcy.

Comair said it has tried since last November to reach a deal with the flight attendants.

Even with the adjustments to the contract that include an average pay cut of 7.5 percent, the company says its flight attendants will remain the highest paid in the regional airline industry. The average flight attendant salary is $29,950 and the average pay cut is $2,250.

The flight attendants were not surprised by Comair's decision to impose the concessions, said Slayback.

"We knew it was coming," Slayback said. "We are prepared to continue to negotiate, and we gave them a proposal today."

The airline received the proposal, but the terms were unacceptable, according to Comair.

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