AA Flight Attendants Seek Strike Step

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    Flight attendants at American Airlines asked federal officials to declare that their negotiations with the airline are stalled, a common first step toward winning permission to strike.

    Flight attendants at American Airlines asked federal officials to declare that their negotiations with the airline are stalled, a common first step toward winning permission to strike.

    If the National Mediation Board agrees, it would start a 30-day clock ticking. After that, the union might be allowed to strike. That's often when negotiators make a deal.

    "We're hopeful there won't be a strike," said Laura Glading, president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, after making the request to the mediation board on Tuesday. "I'm feeling 90 percent sure that we can't get to a deal without more pressure being put on the company."

    In a written statement, American said the request is premature.

    "We are very disappointed the APFA has chosen this course," the airline said. "American Airlines continues to believe that talk of 'impasse' or 'release' at this time is premature, unproductive and can be detrimental to the process, undermining the ability of both parties to get a deal that helps American and all of its employees achieve long-term success."

    It said negotiators have agreed on 71 percent of contract items and identified the areas they need to talk about more. The airline said it expects a decision from the mediation board in mid-April.

    Last week the airline's mechanics also asked the mediation board to declare their talks at an impasse.

    American's unions took big pay cuts in 2003 to keep the airline out of bankruptcy. The flight attendants want at least some of that compensation back. American is offering raises, but the union says the airline wants to keep overall costs flat.

    Shares of American Airlines parent AMR Corp. fell 18 cents to close at $9.66 on Tuesday.

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