Flight Attendants Threaten To Send AMR Into Bankruptcy
They're still mad as hell,
saying they won't take it anymore. Flight attendants for the
biggest airline in the world say they'll scrap a hard-fought wage
and benefit concession package, threatening to send American into
As ANN reported Thursday, and again Saturday, American's top three unions
are still outraged over the airline's disclosure that top managers
would benefit from a secret pension plan designed after September
11, 2001, to protect their earnings in case of bankruptcy. The top
six executives, including CEO Don Carty, were also to receive
retention bonuses worth twice their annual salaries if they stayed
on board the ailing airline through 2005. The disclosure came just
a day after the flight attendants, on a second vote, narrowly
passed the wage and benefit cuts demanded by American in hopes it
could stave off bankruptcy.
Carty apologized for "misleading" the unions and American
rescinded the bonuses. But the airline has refused to do away with
the supplemental pension program. The unions are all but frothing
at the mouth. One flight attendant told the Associated Press,
"American's in the same class as Enron and WorldCom. How well can
he lead? There's no credibility." Indeed, the Allied Pilots
Association (APA) is now demanding an investigation of AMR Corp.
management by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the board
"The Donald, that's what we call him, made all kinds of promises,
and has broken every single one,"another flight attendant was
quoted as saying. "We were absolutely duped."
Third Time's A Charm?
Now, it appears that the Association
of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) will vote yet a third time
on the concession package. "We will proceed to expeditiously
commence a reballoting of the membership," wrote John Ward, APFA
president in a letter to CEO Carty. But flight attendants in St.
Louis (MO), who became American employees when the airline merged
with TWA, say no second ballot is needed. Sherry Cooper, who
represents the St. Louis-based flight attendants, told the St.
Louis Post Dispatch Saturday that APFA leaders should have stuck to
the membership's initial "no" vote. Instead, she said, the union
caved in to company pressure for a second vote.
"The second vote should not have
happened,'' Cooper said. ``If (union leaders) had honored the first
vote count, we wouldn't be in this mess. When you start playing
around with the rules of the game, things get messy."
More than 1800 American flight attendants are based in St.
Louis. Since they lost seniority to American flight attendants
during the merger, they'll be the first to go in layoffs proposed
by the airline under the concession package that would total
approximately $10 billion over six years.