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CWA national board OKs strike

| Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2004

The Communications Workers of America's national executive board voted unanimously Tuesday to authorize a strike by US Airways' 6,000 customer service agents, clearing the way for the union's president to set a strike date.

The union's rank and file had approved a strike authorization vote by 86 percent to 14 percent in early November -- if the bankrupt airline rejected its collective bargaining agreement.

The Association of Flight Attendants, which represents about 5,200 US Airways flight attendants, is voting on strike authorization this week.

The flight attendants and customer service agents have threatened to strike only if Judge Stephen S. Mitchell rejects their contracts.

US Airways will be in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Alexandria, Va., on Thursday, asking Mitchell to set aside all of its union agreements and impose $1 billion in wage and benefit cuts on 28,000 union employees.

The company and its unions continued to meet this week, but union leaders said no agreements appeared to be imminent.

"The airline has demanded devastating pay and benefit concessions from the agents,'' the CWA said yesterday.

"We are continuing to negotiate with each of our unions that do not have agreements, in hopes of reaching consensual agreements,'' said US Airways spokesman David Castelveter. "Any work action under these circumstances would be illegal and in no one's best interest.''

Representatives of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which represents about 9,000 mechanics and fleet-service workers, met with the company yesterday. Spokesman Joseph Tiberi said no details were available.

Teddy Xidas, president of the Flight Attendants Local 40 in Pittsburgh, sent a letter to her 700 local members exhorting them to approve strike authorization.

"The company is asking us to accept terms that could force most of us to seek other employment,'' Xidas said. "Those terms will be emulated by other carriers in their quest to compete. If we become the leader of the pack and accept those terms, I believe our careers will never recover.''

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