Flight Attendants Walk

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The flight attendants' union went on strike yesterday against American Airlines and said it would stay out until after Thanksgiving. The carrier will keep flying - using managers to fill in - and will try to get customers on other airlines if needed.

The airline and union failed to reach a new contract agreement in two days of federally mediated talks. The union, representing 21,000 flight attendants, said members would be off the job for 11 days, including one of the year's busiest periods.

American spokesman Al Becker predicted that ``large numbers of our flight attendants will cross the picket line and come to work.'' As a result of the strike, there will be fewer flight-attendant jobs at American, and strikers will lose their jobs, he said.

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The Allied Pilots Association, representing American's 10,000 pilots, was voting on whether to also strike. A federal judge granted American's request for a temporary restraining order barring the carrier's 30,300 mechanics and ground workers from waging a sympathy strike.

Union president Denise Hedges said if no contract agreement has been reached by Nov. 28, she will ask the union's directors to send flight attendants to work and pursue other steps.

On Tuesday, the two sides returned to the table for the first time since talks broke Oct. 30. On Nov. 1, American implemented a new contract including an average 7.8 percent pay raise.

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