AMR Corp. pilots accept contract
BY D.R. STEWART World Staff Writer
Friday, December 07, 2012
12/07/12 at 1:50 PM
Bankrupt American Airlines’ Allied Pilots Association has accepted the company’s latest contract offer that includes 31 percent to 39 percent wage increases over six years and a 13.5 percent equity stake in the reorganized company, APA executives said Friday.
In balloting that began last month and concluded at noon, a majority of 8,000 APA members reversed course from their rejection in August of the company’s previous contract offer.
The results of the balloting were: 5,489 votes for the contract agreement, 1,951 votes against.
APA President Keith Wilson said 96 percent of eligible APA members participated in the ratification balloting.
“I want to thank everyone who took the time to cast a vote in this important ratification process,” Wilson said in an email message to union members. “I also want to thank the APA board of directors and our many volunteers for their efforts throughout the past year since American Airlines entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
“APA will now turn its focus to helping to ensure that full consideration is given to strategic alternatives before American Airlines’ restructuring concludes. The APA leadership continues to support a merger with US Airways as the best path to a stronger, more competitive American Airlines that will in turn enhance our pilots’ long-term career prospects.”
APA executives said the contract would eventually raise pay in line with pilots at United Airlines and Delta Air Lines.
In exchange, American received more flexibility to outsource flying to other airlines.
American executives said they now have ratified contracts with the company’s three labor unions.
“We are pleased our pilots supported and ratified this agreement, which is an important step forward in our restructuring,” said Denise Lynn, American’s senior vice president — people. “Once we’ve received (bankruptcy) court approval of this agreement, we will have new collective bargaining agreements with all of our unionized groups.
“This agreement addresses the priorities identified by the APA during collaborative talks. Today’s ratification gives us the certainty we need for American to successfully restructure, providing opportunity and growth for all of our people and stakeholders. The modernization of our company is well underway, and we remain focused on emerging as a competitive, world-class airline.”
American executives said the company worked with the APA to develop an agreement that includes items important to pilots while keeping within economic parameters supporting American’s successful bankruptcy reorganization and that are endorsed by the Unsecured Creditors Committee.
Before the ratification vote, the APA was the only American union without a contract.
The Transport Workers Union, including more than 5,000 mechanics and related workers at American’s Maintenance & Engineering Center in Tulsa, and the Association of Professional Flight Attendants agreed to contracts in August.
The ratification vote followed a summer and early fall of discontent and disruptions at American sparked by contract disagreements between the APA and American management.
Since American parent, AMR Corp., filed for bankruptcy on Nov. 29, 2011, the company has sought to trim its labor costs by $1 billion a year.
After the APA rejected the company’s tentative contract offer in August, a bankruptcy judge in September granted American’s motion to nullify the APA’s collective bargaining agreement.
Within days, American’s flight delays and cancellations rose sharply as pilots submitted reports of mechanical and equipment malfunctions.
Although pilots said the problems were due to mismanagement of aircraft maintenance and the advanced age of American’s fleet, the company said they resulted from organized job actions. American was forced to cancel up to 2 percent of its remaining schedule in September and October.
Yet, in the weeks leading up to the ratification vote, some pilots were still angry with the company, as APA President Keith Wilson said in an email message to APA members.
Wilson said a pilot told him he’d rather see American liquidate rather than approve the company’s contract offer.
Wilson said an inflexible stance by pilots would lead to the fate of failed airlines of the past that had been crippled by labor strife.
“While martyrdom in the manner of Eastern Airlines is one option, I do not believe that the majority of our pilots would prefer to embark on a path of self-destruction in order to make a political point or poke management in the eye,” Wilson said.
The APA president said he had voted against the August contract offer, but he said the latest contract was much improved and he intended to vote for it.
The APA and American’s other two unions support a merger with US Airways and have agreed to tentative contracts with the Tempe, Ariz., carrier that would be effective in the event the two airlines combine.
In August, American and US Airways signed non-disclosure agreements that permit the two carriers to exchange proprietary financial data.
In this Jan. 18 file photo, an American Airlines plane sits on the tarmac at Tulsa International Airport. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World File