WASHINGTON – Negotiators for American Airlines and its flight attendants agreed on a tentative contract Saturday, federal mediators said.
The airline and its attendants spent the last three days in Washington with federal mediators, trying to resolve their 2 1/2-year-old contract dispute. Flight attendants earlier rejected a tentative agreement in 1999.
Union members voted to strike in February and were poised to walk out on Sunday.
However, President Bush said earlier in the week that he would invoke his powers under federal labor law and name a federal board to recommend a proposed settlement. That would have prevented the union from striking for 60 days.
There were no immediate details of the settlement, but the National Mediation Board issued a statement saying the two sides had agreed to maintain the status quo while the tentative agreement is considered by the union membership.
Negotiators meeting in Washington the last three days knew that they would not face a strike even if they failed to reach an agreement.
The president has vowed to prevent airline strikes, and stepped in to keep Northwest Airlines mechanics at work in March. The administration threatened to do the same in a dispute between Delta Air Lines and its pilots, but an agreement was reached in May.
The union had rejected the airline's earlier offer of a 21.6 percent pay raise over six years. The union said it was inadequate because it would still have left American's salaries behind those of Delta Air Lines flight attendants. The 23,000 American attendants' base pay is between $15,000 and $36,000, according to the union.
The flight attendants have been without a contract for 2 1/2 years. The airline has offered a 21.6 percent pay raise over six years.