MIAMI — Eastern Airlines' 6,200 flight attendants threatened Wednesday to strike anytime after midnight Friday, forcing a new crisis upon the troubled carrier.
Talks between the airline and the Transport Workers Union (TWU), which represents Eastern's flight attendants, reached an impasse late Tuesday, only hours after the two sides returned to the bargaining table. The talks had been renewed following the announcement early Monday that Texas Air Corp. had agreed to buy Eastern.
The union and the airline had announced a tentative agreement late Saturday night, but it was never signed. And there was disagreement between the two sides Wednesday on whether an agreement had actually been reached. Eastern insisted that there had been no final agreement, but the union said there had been a handshake on a pact.
The union charged Wednesday that, when talks had resumed Tuesday, Eastern came to the table with a drastically lower offer.
An Eastern spokesman said Wednesday: "We are continuing to negotiate faithfully and are optimistic that a satisfactory and equitable settlement will be reached and a strike averted." But John Kerrigan, a TWU official, said he sees no way of avoiding a strike.