Union Negotiations Stopping American Airlines on the Runway

In the Vice President’s own words, the middle class has been “buried” during the last four years.  With an unemployment rate over 8 percent and millions of Americans who have simply given up on looking for employment, America’s unrelenting economic recession has forced families and small businesses to make difficult financial sacrifices.

Union workers have largely been left unscathed, however – even if that meant other working families have to make even greater sacrifices.  The Allied Pilots Association (APA) has quickly become a hallmark of the unrealistic power grabs that are being attempted by union bosses.

As American Airlines worked to salvage the company and restructure after filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, APA rejected a concessionary contract offered by the company which included pay raises and a 13.5 percent stake in the company (valued at $187,500 per pilot), in August 2012.

Rather than engaging in productive discussions that move toward a compromise between the company and the union bosses, Association members have been systematically calling in sick, moving airplanes slowly down the tarmac, and grounding flights without proper reasoning.  Their actions have raised questions about the reliability of the airline and are directly hurting consumers.

In September 2012, ABC News explained American Airlines’ flights were on time just 64 percent of the time on September 20 (a randomly selected day chosen for the story) and pilots called in sick 20 percent more than normal – a decision that “impacts the availability of reserve pilots, which can ultimately lead to cancellations.”

To further the publicity stunt, pilots are set to hold a strike vote this week.  Because pilots are currently barred from striking as part of their current arrangement with the National Mediation Board, this vote is merely symbolic and fails to move any closer to an agreement.

The reality is that the pilot feud is preventing American Airlines from providing consumers with as reliable a service as usual, forcing flyers to look towards other airlines and leaving the company with less money to reorganize and pay workers.  In continuing this dispute with empty actions and bully-like tactics, pilots are depleting the cash flow that funds their salaries – as well as the salaries of the airline’s other employees.

What the Association is failing to grasp is that their members’ jobs are dependent on a company that can move forward and navigate today’s economic recession.  If American Airlines is stuck on the runway due to the antics of a slow-moving union, pilots and all the airline’s employees will not only fail to receive a generous pay package, but could face the reality of pay cuts and even layoffs.

The economic reality is that the American middle class and American businesses have been buried over the last four years.  Big Labor must be truthful about our nation’s economy and realistic about what is best for their members and their employers.