|NATIONAL MEDIATION BOARD|
|Washington, D.C. 20572
March 22, 2000
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NATIONAL MEDIATION BOARD
Re: Flight Attendants Ratify Agreement with Continental Airlines
The NMB commends Continental Airline's 8,500 Flight Attendants for their approval of a tentative agreement. NMB Board Member Maggie Jacobsen credits the hard work of both the IAM bargaining committee and Continental's management team, as well as a very professional job by Mediator Patricia Sims, for constructing an agreement which proved satisfactory to the majority of employees. The Flight Attendants are represented by the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers (IAM&AW).
The agreement was concluded within six months of the start of negotiations and less than two months past the contract's amendable date.
Ms. Jacobsen observed that too often in recent history tentative agreements have failed ratification, prompting a lengthy and difficult continuation of the bargaining process. Trying to unravel a package that was the result of intensive and complex exchanges is extraordinarily difficult and often leads to a deterioration in labor-management relationships, which may add a year or two more to the bargaining. Rejections may be driven by disappointment in not achieving everything desired or a belief that a second round will produce more. Regardless, they create credibility problems, build frustration and tend to poison the well of respect for the collective bargaining process.
Labor and management used a mix of traditional and more deliberative and informative techniques, because they were seeking a less confrontational approach. The parties' goal was to optimize problem solving, provide for open communications, and ensure efficient, effective, and thorough discussion and resolution of all the issues.
In September 1999, the NMB conducted alternative dispute resolution training, which focused on how to jointly frame issues, recognize interests and develop options for possible solutions. Following the training, the parties maintained an aggressive meeting schedule for their collective bargaining sessions and resolved more than 250 open or unresolved issues.
The Board encourages air and rail carriers and labor organizations to consider using this alternative approach to negotiations.
[NMB Release PR-A-13064-3-20-00]
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