Comair Flight Attendants Intend to Appeal

The union that represents Comair's flight attendants filed notice Thursday that it will appeal a U.S. Bankruptcy Court decision to allow Delta Air Line's regional carrier to throw out its contract with flight attendants.

The flight attendants, represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, have said they would strike if the concessions were imposed, and the airline has said it would prefer to negotiate a settlement.

"We believe the bankruptcy court's decision could very well warrant reversal on appeal," said Connie Slayback, president on Teamsters Local 513 in Florence, Ky. "Our flight attendants should not be asked to do more than their fair share for the company.

"We have demonstrated that we are committed to keep this airline flying. If Comair moves to implement the judge's most recent decision and abrogate our agreement, travelers should be aware that strike activity is possible and would disrupt operations at both Comair and Delta," Slayback said.

Pilots and mechanics accepted concessions totaling $18.3 million earlier this year, but those deals were contingent on Comair getting $8.9 million in givebacks from flight attendants.

Judge Adlai Hardin, sitting in White Plains, N.Y., rejected Comair's first request to void its contract with the attendants in April, but granted a second request in July after renewed negotiations failed to reach agreement.

After Hardin granted Comair's second request to toss the contract, a new round of negotiations broke down with Comair still $1 million short of its goal.

Comair's pilots and mechanics said Thursday that their agreements with the airline would likely be rescinded if the airline fails to win targeted concessions from its flight attendants.

"In that deal was a stipulation that if you're going to take $17.3 million from us, you have to get $8.9 million from the flight attendants and $1 million from the mechanics," said J.C. Lawson, a spokesman for the pilots' union.

Lawson said the pilots' union has scheduled talks with Comair for Aug. 9-10.

"We have a clause in our recently negotiated agreements that says if the company receives lower than their set target for any of the groups, we would have to adjust our sacrifice accordingly," said Joe Tiberi, spokesman for mechanics represented by the International Association of Machinists.

Tiberi said the union has scheduled a meeting with Comair for Aug. 10.

Both union spokesmen said no immediate job action was planned.

"Nothing can happen until we know what kind of deal they reached with the flight attendants," Tiberi said.

In addition to meetings with pilots and mechanics next week, Comair expects to resume negotiations with the flight attendants later this month.

"As we told our employees, our intent was to return to the table and find a way to implement the agreements that were ratified in January," spokeswoman Kate Marx said. "We know the contingencies are not going to hold."

Comair is based in Erlanger, Ky., near Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.

Delta and Comair, with 6,400 employees and 850 flights daily to 108 cities, filed for Chapter 11 protection from creditors last year.

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