Avelo Airlines cabin crew joins Association of Flight Attendants

Six months after the initial filing of an election, Avelo Airlines flight attendants announced that they would be represented by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA).

Workers alleged that Avelo waged an aggressive union-busting campaign to delay the vote as workers fought to improve conditions at the airline start-up.

Despite launching the airline in 2021, it has reportedly struggled to retain employees despite its rapid growth.

In a statement, Sara Nelson, President of AFA International, said:


“Avelo Flight Attendants sent a message to their management and to anyone considering starting an airline: we want respect and fairness from the start. Flight attendants will elect representatives from among their ranks and look into the preparatory work for contract negotiations based on the priorities established by all Avelo flight attendants.As part of the AFA, they have experts to work with them throughout the collective bargaining process and the full force of our flight attendants union supports them every step of the way.

Avélo Airlines

Although the airline was less than a year old, it was reportedly plagued by high staff turnover. Photo: Getty Images

The flight attendants first applied for recognition with the National Mediation Board (NMB) in October 2021, although legislative and legal disputes delayed the election.

Avelo Airlines, represented by “union-busting” law firm Jones Day, has been embroiled in a legal battle against the NMB. The airline accused the board of violating federal labor laws by preventing new hires from voting in elections, citing the Railroad Labor Act.

According to Law360, the NMB circumvented the law’s requirement that a union seeking representation must have the interest of at least 50% of the workers for the election to take place. The NMB voting deadline would have barred 70% of flight attendants from voting.

Perfect Union reported that Avelo Airlines CEO Andrew Levy promised the airline would continue its fight against the union despite the vote. Writing in a statement to staff on Wednesday, Levy said:

“Rest assured that Avelo will pursue the lawsuit our company previously filed in federal court challenging the legitimacy of the election.”

The AFA claimed the legal battle was a delaying tactic and expressed its desire to put animosity aside and work collaboratively with management to resolve the issues. Nelson added,

“Avelo flight attendants have shown incredible courage and solidarity in the face of an aggressive union busting campaign. Now is the time for Avelo management to stop wasting time and money fighting its workers and work with them to secure a contract that respects workers and strengthens the airline. Our entire family of flight attendants stands alongside the Avelo AFA crew to help them secure the rights, protections and benefits they deserve.


Avelo Airlines CEO Andrew Levy has confirmed he will continue his battle against the National Mediation Council despite the recent union victory. Photo: Getty Images

Who is the Flight Attendants Association-CWA?

The AFA is the largest union for flight attendants in the United States, representing more than 45,000 workers at several airlines. The union has notably backed battles for mandatory face masks, grounding aggressive passengers and improving working conditions.

At the same time, the union backed a series of pickets held by Spirit Airlines flight attendants over breach of contract. Employees have alleged that frequent “operational meltdowns” have left employees stranded in cities across the United States.

What do you think of Avelo flight attendants joining the AFA? Should the airline work more closely with the union to address staff concerns? Let us know in the comments.

Sources: Law360, more perfect union


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Andrew B. Reiter