In March, flight attendants rejected a tentative agreement by a 75% margin, so obviously negotiators are getting closer.

Jason Goldberg, a principal in The Leading Edge consulting firm, said he expects the National Mediation Board to encourage another vote.

"The vote was so close, and the NMB's desire is not to see commerce interrupted," Goldberg said. "I see a period of time passing. Then the Association of Flight Attendants might take another survey. (Then) I expect there will be a return to mediated negotiations. I wouldn't be surprised to see another tentative agreement in the next couple of months, with some very minor improvements. It wouldn't take much more to get a deal done."

The National Mediation Board has the ability to release the parties, triggering a process that eventually may lead to a strike, but that appears unlikely given recent NMB practice as well as the close vote.

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

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Ted Reed

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