American Airlines, unions get more time to negotiate labor agreements
BY D.R. STEWART World Staff Writer
Saturday, June 23, 2012
6/23/12 at 4:09 AM
See previous stories about American Airlines and its Tulsa operations.
A federal bankruptcy judge's extension until Friday of a ruling on whether to nullify American Airlines' union collective bargaining agreements has given the parties additional time to negotiate consensual labor agreements, union and company executives said.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Sean Lane also granted American's motions for extensions to decide whether to assume or reject dozens of unexpired airport leases around the world, including half a dozen leases at Tulsa International Airport, court documents show.
Lane's stay of American's Section 1113 motion to reject its collective bargaining agreements with its unionized pilots, mechanics and flight attendants was supported by the company and the Allied Pilots Association, which sought more time to review the company's final offer.
"The delay is solely focused on giving the APA board additional time to more carefully consider the offer and everything that's at stake," said American spokesman John Hale in an email to the pilots. "Our negotiators listened closely to the APA to address issues that were critical to you, our pilots - more pay, more predictability and more ownership in your company while still producing costs savings of 17 percent as compared to our initial target of 20 percent."
American's final offer to the pilots includes a 4 percent wage increase on the day the contract is signed and 2 percent wage increases in each of the next five years - a considerable improvement over the 7.5 percent wage increases over six years offered to the Transport Workers Union.
In May, five of seven TWU bargaining units accepted American's "final best" offer, which was rejected by the mechanics and stores/stock clerks.
The mechanics, which include 5,600 workers at American's Tulsa Maintenance & Engineering Center, and the stores/stock clerks will confront American's Section 1113 motion in bankruptcy court and the company's imposition of the more severe March term sheet proposals.
The term sheet includes layoffs of 13,000 people companywide, 2,600 of them in Tulsa, outsourcing of 40 percent of aircraft maintenance now performed in house and changes in work rules and job classifications that likely will mean longer hours and less pay.
American executives said the company needs $1.25 billion in labor cost savings annually, or 20 percent from each labor group: $390 million a year from the TWU; $370 million a year from the APA; $230 million a year from the Association of Professional Flight Attendants; $165 million a year from management and support staff; and $95 million annually from nonunion employees.
John Hewitt, TWU Local 514's chairman of maintenance in Tulsa, said the five TWU work groups that voted for the "final best" offer would be offered the same deal being offered the pilots.
"If the pilots give up 17 percent, the five work groups get 3 percent savings added to their contracts," Hewitt said. "The position we're going to take (as mechanics and stores/stock clerks) is that if the other guys only have to give up 17 percent, we're going to say 17 percent is all you're going to take from us."
Hewitt said there are no negotiations scheduled between American and the TWU or the APFA.
Denise Lynn, American's senior vice president, people, told American employees in an email that company representatives will be meeting with the five TWU work groups that ratified the company's final offer "to make comparable improvements for them."
"We will also adjust the needed savings for our independent employees, in order to ensure that they are treated fairly and equitably," Lynn said.
American spokesman Bruce Hicks said it is not too late for the mechanics and flight attendants.
"We're willing to sit down with the APFA and TWU to resume good-faith negotiations at any time," Hicks said. "It's vital we close this chapter and move toward agreements that support a new American Airlines that can compete and win."
In other matters this week, Lane granted American's motions for extensions of time to assume or reject certain unexpired leases of airport properties.
Among the leases on which American was granted extensions of time are:
Original Print Headline: More time to talk
- The use and lease agreement between American Airlines and the Tulsa Airports Improvement Trust for the passenger terminal at Tulsa International Airport, extended until Oct. 24.
- Storage facility leases between American and the city of Tulsa at Hangar 6 and Building 116, Air Force Plant No. 3, extended until Oct. 24.
- Cargo facility lease between American and the Tulsa Airports Improvement Trust, extended until Oct. 24.
- Maintenance & Engineering Center lease between American and the Tulsa Municipal Airport Trust, extended until July 26.
- Hangar 80 lease between American and the Tulsa Industrial Authority, extended until Oct. 24.
D.R. Stewart 918-581-8451
A jet sits in a hangar at the American Airlines Maintenance & Engineering Center at Tulsa International Airport. TOM GILBERT/Tulsa World