Air Wisconsin flight attendants have asked a federal mediator to suspend contract negotiations with the company as a step toward a possible strike. The request came as dozens of flight attendants demonstrated May 9 outside Dulles International Airport in a bid to pressure the regional carrier and its bigger partner, United Airlines. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Air Wisconsin Airlines flight attendants have asked a federal mediator to suspend contract negotiations with the company in a move that could clear the way for a strike.

The request occurred as dozens of flight attendants demonstrated Thursday outside Washington Dulles International Airport’s main terminal. The union — which in November voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike — is hoping to put pressure on the regional carrier and its bigger partner, United Airlines.

"There’s nothing pushing these negotiations forward,” Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, said. “Certainly, now that we’ve filed this, maybe that will get them to step up.”

The Appleton, Wis.-based company operates regional flights as United Express. Company officials did not respond to a phone call seeking comment.

The union — which represents about 300 flight attendants at Air Wisconsin — says flight attendants have not had a raise since 2007.

Both sides have been negotiating since 2016 in talks overseen by the National Mediation Board. The board was created in the 1930s to resolve labor disputes that might otherwise disrupt the nation’s railroads and airlines. The union — which voted overwhelmingly in November to authorize a strike — has asked the board to acknowledge the deadlock and release the union from mediation. If successful, both sides would then enter a 30-day cooling-off period before any strike deadline.