Continental Airlines reported no immediate effects on flights today as attendants began picketing at airports across the country.
As the Continental strike deadline came this morning, some flight attendants set up picket lines at the carrier’s main Houston hub, but flights appeared to be departing and arriving normally.
There are about 6,800 Continental flight attendants; the company and union give differing figures on how many are union members in the largely non-union carrier.
“I can only confirm that the strike has been called,” Myra Clayton, spokeswoman for the Union of Flight Attendants, said today in Houston. She said the decision was made among union leaders Sunday night, but it is not directly related to the strike that has all but shut down Eastern Airlines since March 4.
“It’s like an annual event,” Continental spokesman Dave Messing said. An Easter, 1988, call for a sickout failed to materialize, and “there’s no reason to believe this attempt will be any more successful,” he said.
About 10 members of the Union of Flight Attendants, dressed in maroon uniforms with Continental emblems, walked a picket line at Houston Intercontinental Airport, carrying yellow signs proclaiming “On Strike.”
“We were prepared to strike in December and we were promised at the time that if we waited the company would be willing to sit down and negotiate a contract with us in January, but that still has not happened,” Sheila Hammond, one of the pickets, said.
There were also pickets reported at Los Angeles International Airport, Newark (N.J.) International Airport and Denver’s Stapleton International Airport.
It was not immediately clear how many flight attendants walked off their jobs and how many were picketing on their days off.
There were no immediate reports of problems at airports affected by the picketing, or at other airports.
Continental said in a statement that the flights were running normally, “which shows that our flight attendants are proud of their service and will continue to support the company’s goal of providing for the customer.”