USAIR'S GOAL of gaining $2.5 billion in wage concessions from employees over the next five years has had a setback, with 8,300 members of the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) voting to reject the concession package negotiated by the union's leaders.

The AFA says that rank-and-file members turned down the offer by a vote of 55% to 45%. USAir management is "disappointed", but says that the vote is "understandable given the complexity of the issues". The company says that it will decide on the next step following an analysis of the vote.

The AFA was the first union group to put a tentative agreement to a vote. The International Association of Machinists, which represents 8,300 mechanics and 6,500 fleet-service workers, is preparing to seek ratification from its members.

A tentative agreement was also reached earlier this year with the Air Line Pilots Association. USAir is still negotiating with the Transport Workers Union which represents only 270 employees. About 14,000 non-union workers are also involved in talks.

All four labour groups, the non-union workers and USAir's board of directors and shareholders, must embrace the cost-cutting programme before it is implemented.

Source: Flight International