Flight attendants say Allegiant trying to wait them out on contract

Members of the Transportation Workers Union protest on the second anniversary of the start of negotiations for a contract for Allegiant Air flight attendants in front of the airline’s headquarters in Las Vegas.

Allegiant Air’s union flight attendants delivered a cake with a message to company managers on the second anniversary of the start of contract negotiations today.

Representatives of Transport Workers Union Local 577 held signs and waved at traffic for two hours outside the airline’s Durango Drive headquarters this morning.

About 15 people were demonstrating in the informational picket in the early stages of the event.

Before the protest, Debra Petersen-Barber, an Allegiant flight attendant for eight years and the union’s lead negotiator, delivered a cake with the message, “Cutting corners is fine for cake, but not employees.”

Union officials said they planned to symbolically cut the corners off the cake.

The union represents about 600 flight attendants at 10 bases, including 150 in Las Vegas.

Petersen-Barber said the airline’s management is engaging in delay tactics to prevent a contract from being drafted.

“Things started out pretty well and we agreed quickly on 33 articles, but now we’re down to the last five and things haven’t progressed,” she said. “So, we think they’re just trying to outlast us.”

Petersen-Barber said the biggest sticking point is the airline’s refusal to compensate flight attendants for time spent during flight delays.

“If we fly to Wichita and there’s a mechanical problem with the plane for the return flight, we’re stuck there and have to be available when the plane is ready,” she said. “We get nothing for that time. While we’re stuck there, I may be paying for child care.”

She said in some cases, flight delays have resulted in flight attendants working long shifts. She said flight attendants for Hawaii flights, for example, must wait through delays then work through a six-hour flight.

The union has resorted to a series of actions to embarrass the company, including nonworking union members distributing leaflets on flights, publishing a website chronicling Allegiant’s record of abandoning cities and routes and trumpeting the airline’s flight delays, including a Sunday incident in Las Vegas in which passengers broke into song on a plane after a four-hour delay.

In response, company officials said the union’s tactics, including today’s demonstration, are unproductive to the contract negotiation process.

“The TWU is welcome to use their resources as they see fit,” Allegiant spokesman Brian Davis said today. “We prefer to be attacking the issues and not one another.”