Readers of this blog are a pretty savvy bunch. It’s obvious from comments that many work in the airline industry or are really educated on the way the industry works.

For those who aren’t familiar with airline labor law, however, let me emphasize that a strike authorization vote is not the same thing as a decision to go on strike.

An authorization vote gives a union another tool to put pressure on the airline. It says “our members have given us the necessary ammunition if we get to that point.”

But a strike can’t happen until the National Mediation Board decides that talks have reached an impasse. That hasn’t happened for any American Airlines bargaining unit, even though the NMB has requests on hand from the Association of Professional Flight Attendants and the Transport Workers Union, both of which have asked to be released from mediation.

If the NMB did decide that matters were at an impasse and released the parties, that would start a 30-day cooling-off period during which talks would continue.

If the 30 days ended without an agreement, either the union or airline could engage in self-help, which could be a strike.

But the NMB has all parties still at the negotiating table, and three TWU units have tentative agreements in principle.

So a strike may happen some day. But we don’t seem to be anywhere near that point, not yet.

Most of you are well aware of how the process works. But in case someone was misled into thinking that a strike was maybe hours or days away, you may now take your finger off the panic button. We’ll keep you advised.

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