American's unions schedule contract votes
BY D.R. STEWART World Staff Writer
Saturday, July 21, 2012
7/21/12 at 5:17 AM
See previous stories about American Airlines and its Tulsa operations.
American Airlines' flight attendants union will join mechanics, stock clerks and pilots in voting on the company's "last best and final offers" over the next three weeks, union and company executives said Friday.
The executive board of the 17,000-member Association of Professional Flight Attendants, the last union to agree to a ratification vote on the company's final offers, said the latest proposal includes improvements from the term sheet American presented in March.
The final offer also is preferable to American parent AMR Corp.'s Section 1113 motion in U.S. Bankruptcy Court to cancel collective bargaining agreements with the APFA, American's unionized mechanics and pilots, officials said.
"Although not a tentative agreement, this LBFO represents the absolute best terms our negotiating team was able to achieve during Section 1113 negotiations," APFA President Laura Glading said in an email to union members. "The terms of the LBFO ... contains substantial improvements over AA's Section 1113 term sheet."
American's "best and final" offer to APFA includes an $1,500 lump sum payment on the day of signing and 9.5 percent wage increases over six years. It also includes an early retirement incentive of $40,000 for flight attendants with at least 15 years of service, officials said.
American spokesman Bruce Hicks said the company believes a vote by the flight attendants on the proposal brings the company closer to consensual agreements with its unions and positions it to emerge successful from bankruptcy reorganization.
"In productive bargaining and discussions with APFA, we've worked creatively to address the items that APFA said were priorities," Hicks said. "This final offer includes substantial enhancements over our term sheet, including reallocating profit sharing to provide pay raises and more guaranteed income up front, lowering the cost savings target from 20 percent to 17 percent and an early out incentive that could eliminate the need for the company to furlough flight attendants."
Details of the APFA ratification vote were being finalized Friday, but the balloting is expected to overlap that of the Transport Workers Union mechanics and stock clerks and the Allied Pilots Association by about a week.
The TWU voting will begin at 12:01 a.m. CDT Monday, concluding at 11:59 p.m. CDT on Aug. 7.
More than 10,000 TWU mechanics and stock clerks will be voting on an offer that includes 15 percent wage increases over six years, better health-care benefits than previously offered and market readjustment, based on industry compensation, after 36 months.
APA's ratification vote by 10,000 pilots will begin at noon CDT Wednesday and wrap up at noon on Aug. 8.
The pilots are voting on whether to accept 14 percent wage increases over six years and a claim against AMR in the form of 13.5 percent equity stake in the newly reorganized American Airlines.
Members of the APA, TWU and APFA said the six-year offers they are voting on are really 10-year agreements.
Since the concessionary contracts the unions agreed to in 2003 became amendable in 2008, the unions and American have been unable to reach agreements on new contracts in protracted negotiations.
The company's offers do not include retroactive compensation for the past four years, union officials said.
Both the TWU and APA voting will be conducted by BallotPoint via the Internet, although TWU members also may vote by telephone on a 1-866 number.
Founded in 1994, Portland, Ore.-based BallotPoint's process has been used in more than 2,700 union elections in which over 1.2 million votes were cast.
"There has never been a successful challenge to any BallotPoint-conducted election," the company says on its website.
APA executives said they selected BallotPoint because its system is specifically designed to comply with the requirements of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959.
But hundreds of American pilots are concerned about electronic voting. In a letter to U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Sean Lane on July 5, 429 members of APA said they prefer voting by paper ballot.
"APA has a history of problems with electronic voting and, as a result, now only uses mailed-in ballots when conducting officer elections," the pilots said. "There are numerous technical papers which have documented serious problems with Internet and telephone voting, including lack of transparency, errors or defects in recording and tabulation, violation of ballot secrecy and even vulnerability to interference and tampering. ... Paper ballots also provide the ability to conduct a meaningful recount, something not possible with Internet or telephone voting."
Greg Overman, spokesman for APA, said based on assurances from BallotPoint and the compressed time frame of the voting, the APA board and its leadership are confident in electronic voting.
"You do banking electronically. You shop on the Internet," Overman said. "It's the way we live now."
Ratification voting by
American Airlines mechanics,
stock clerks, pilots and
TWU mechanics and stock
clerks: Polls open 12:01 a.m.
CDT Monday, close 11:59
p.m. CDT Aug. 7
Allied Pilots Association:
Polls open noon CDT
Wednesday, close noon
CDT Aug. 8
Association of Professional
Flight Attendants: Details of
voting being finalized
Sources: Transport Workers Union,
Allied Pilots Association, Association
of Professional Flight Attendants
AMR in bankruptcy
Company filed for bankruptcy on Nov. 29, 2011, after losing more than $10 billion in the last 10 years.
On Feb. 1, company announced a plan to cut 13,000 jobs, including 2,100 Transport Workers Union jobs in Tulsa. Since then, the estimates have been reduced to 9,740 jobs cuts companywide.
US Airways is actively pursuing a merger with American Airlines. In April, US Airways CEO Doug Parker reached tentative contract agreements with American's Allied Pilots Association, Transport Workers Union and Association of Professional Flight Attendants. The tentative agreements would become effective with the merger of American and Tempe, Ariz.-based US Airways. A merger would result in layoffs of 450 TWU members in Tulsa and 4,900 mechanics, baggage handlers and other ground workers companywide.
American negotiators have reached contract agreements with five TWU work groups. TWU mechanics and stock clerks, the Allied Pilots Association and the flight attendants will conduct ratification votes on tentative contract agreements in the next three weeks.
The TWU and the pilots will begin voting next week on new contracts with AMR. The TWU's tentative contract agreement includes 15 percent wage increases over six years, improved health-care coverage, market wage readjustment - based on industry compensation, after 36 months - and a provision to reopen full contract negotiations after four years. The company has not provided revised layoff numbers.
On Thursday, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Sean H. Lane in New York approved AMR's request to extend its exclusive right to present a reorganization plan to the court until Dec. 28 and to extend until Feb. 28 of next year a deadline to solicit votes on that plan.
2,100: Most recent number of proposed job cuts in Tulsa.
$75 million: Money AMR had spent through June on bankruptcy costs.
$10 billion: AMR's losses in the past 10 years.
$1.25 billion: The money AMR hopes to save in labor expenses on an annual basis.
Original Print Headline: American attendants plan vote on contract
D.R. Stewart 918-581-8451