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Feds Ask American, Unions to Keep Talking

The NMB said talks with the TWU and the APFA should proceed while it considers request for release.
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) -- The National Mediation Board says it will schedule more talks between



and its two biggest unions while it considers union requests that ask to be released from mediation.

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Both the Association of Professional Flight Attendants and the Transport Workers Union have asked to be released from mediation, triggering a countdown that would pressure negotiators to reach a deal because it would allow a strike as soon as 30 days later.

"We are pleased the NMB has called for the parties to reconvene," said American spokeswoman Missy Latham. "The company continues to believe that a negotiated agreement is the best solution

and is committed to reaching new contracts with the unions."

APFA spokeswoman Diana Dunn said, "APFA falls under the jurisdiction of the NMB and we will listen to what they have to say, but we still want to be released." She said the union is awaiting a schedule for the next round of talks.

Meanwhile, in an internal TWU memo, Director of Mediation Services Larry Gibbons wrote that the board "intends to continue bringing the parties together by reconvening sessions, while simultaneously reviewing the request for release." Gibbons noted that American Eagle and American will be treated independently, so that "the board could elect to release or deny either party at their discretion."

-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.