Piedmont Airlines flight attendants voted 100% to strike in response to a new contract proposal.
The carrier said high health premiums outpace the minimal pay increases offered by Piedmont.
Union leaders say Piedmont flight attendants make 45% less than mainline flight attendants offering the same service.
Flight attendants at Piedmont Airlines had a 100% strike vote on Thursday after management offered a contract that the union says does not provide a living wage for members.
In a vote by Piedmont's flight attendant union, The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, members unanimously voted to authorize a strike, said the AFA, with 75.4% of members participating. The vote comes after years of talks and stalled negotiations over flight attendant pay and benefits.
Under Piedmont's proposed contract, flight attendants would get minimal raises that fail to keep up with rising health premiums, meaning they would earn less income under the new contract than they do today, said the AFA. According to AFA Piedmont president Keturah Johnson, the offer is below a living wage and flight attendants "can't afford to work at Piedmont."
Following the vote, team members picketed outside Philadelphia International Airport, bringing the matter public, according to the union.
According to AFA International President Sara Nelson, flight attendants at Piedmont make up to 45% less than their mainline counterparts at American for doing the same work. According to Glassdoor, the average hourly pay for Piedmont flight attendants is $20 per hour, while American mainline flight attendant pay is $31 per hour.
"Workers across the country are on strike right now to end two-tier employment systems where workers earn less for the same jobs," said Nelson. "Piedmont Flight Attendants want a fair deal, but if it takes a strike we've got their backs across the industry."
Piedmont's management said in a statement it is committed to coming to a contract agreement.
"We are dedicated to getting a competitive contract negotiated for our more than 350 Piedmont Flight Attendants," a Piedmont spokesperson told Insider. "We have the most professional Flight Service professionals in the industry, and Piedmont is a leader in safety and performance because of their efforts. We are in agreement our team members deserve the best contract and we are committed to delivering that to them. We look forward to getting back to negotiations in November."
According to the AFA, the union could request the National Mediation Board declare deadlocked negotiations and send both parties into a 30-day "cooling off" period, which means the company could strike 30 days after making the request. If the union strikes, it would do so under its Create Havoc Around Our System, or CHAOS, strategy. The AFA explained the strike could impact just one flight or the entire system, and it does not have to give notice to management or passengers before striking.
Nelson warned about the impact the union strike would have on American's network, mentioning the airline industry's fragile operation and the consequences of staffing shortages.
"We've seen in the last few months how delicate the aviation system is, and how much it depends on every worker. The Flight Attendants at Piedmont are sending a message to management and to our entire industry," said Nelson.