The union representing American Airlines' flight attendants is disputing the carrier's statements that its labor costs are the highest in the industry. "The cost disparity had turned to zero because of the contract increases" by American's rivals, said Dan Akins, an economic adviser for the Association of Professional Flight Attendants. By mid-2011, "the flight-attendant-contract costs of other carriers were equivalent to those at American." However, American spokeswoman Missy Cousino says the costs include benefits as well as salary. "Continental and Southwest might have increased flight-attendant pay, but they don't have comparable benefits like retiree medical. ... American's flight attendants continue to be among the most highly compensated in the industry, including a benefits package no other airline matches," she said.