AMERICAN'S FLIGHT ATTENDANTS MOVE UP STRIKE DATE TO NOV. 18

AMERICAN'S FLIGHT ATTENDANTS MOVE UP STRIKE DATE TO NOV. 18

American Airlines flight attendants have moved up a planned strike date to Nov. 18 because they are angry that the airline is training replacement workers.

"We will not play a waiting game that allows the company time to train quickie flight attendants to fulfill its threat to permanently replace us when we strike," said Denise Hedges, president of the 20,748 member Association of Professional Flight Attendants.The strike had been tentatively set for Nov. 22, the Monday before Thanksgiving, when a heavy travel period begins. But plans changed because American said last week that it had gained approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to shorten its flight attendants training program from eight weeks to seven days.

Union leaders said they were surprised by that decision from the Clinton administration, which they had counted as a supporter.

Patricia San Pedro, an American Airlines spokeswoman, said the company is training substitute flight attendants, but declined to say how many. All of the trainees are American employees who have volunteered to participate in the program, she said. More than 1,500 have volunteered.

Ms. San Pedro said the airline expects to operate 100 percent of its schedule if the flight attendants strike.

Even with the new strike date, the airline and the union still have 10 days to come to terms on an agreement. Both the airline and the union say they are ready to talk again.