American Airlines unions ask board to consider merger now
May 04, 2012 (Menafn - Fort Worth Star-Telegram - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --American Airlines' three largest unions are asking its board of directors to seriously consider a merger with US Airways now instead of waiting for the airline to emerge from bankruptcy.
The request was made in an "open letter" advertisement published in today's Star-Telegram (Page 11A) and other newspapers. It is addressed to the board of directors of Fort Worth-based AMR Corp., American's parent.
"The 'standalone' business plan that AMR management has presented as part of our airline's Chapter 11 restructuring has been greeted with almost universal skepticism by industry analysts. For this reason, we urge you to consider an alternative path -- one that those same analysts and nearly 55,000 American Airlines employees have enthusiastically endorsed," the ad says."... We truly believe that the merger plan put forth by US Airways represents a better path for our airline's future and respectfully request that you engage with US Airways management now."
Two weeks ago, the three unions announced that they were publicly supporting US Airways' possible takeover bid and had agreed on contract terms with the airline.
"We expect management to try to pry us apart, but I believe this letter tells the board that we intend to see this effort through together," said Laura Glading, president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants. "Consolidation with US Airways is American's best avenue out of bankruptcy and back to prosperity."
Last week, American executives appeared in U.S. Bankruptcy Court to press the court to terminate its existing union contracts so it can move forward with its restructuring plans. On Feb. 1, it laid out a proposal that would trim 13,000 union jobs, but it has since revised its offer to the Transport Workers Union to save more than 3,000 of them.
"Nothing changes as a result of these latest statements from our unions," American spokesman Bruce Hicks said. "It should be easy for anyone to understand the agendas of other interested parties and their sense of urgency to advance them, and their actions continue to demonstrate that. We don't need to address them again."
It is up to the board and the executive team, Hicks said, to work with the creditors committee to determine what is best for the company, including whether American should merge with another airline.
US Airways has promised to save 6,200 American jobs that would be eliminated under American's original restructuring plan, the unions said.
"We think the AMR board of directors should do the same. US Airways has offered a very attractive proposal and the board of directors should consider it now," said Jim Little, president of the Transport Workers Union of America.
Dave Bates, president of the Allied Pilots Association, said thousands of pilots have signed an online petition voicing "no confidence" in American's management and its ability to restructure. "Our pilots have spoken with one voice -- it's time for a real change in the direction of our airline," Bates added.
Service agents lawsuit
Separately, American filed a lawsuit Wednesday in an attempt to stop a union representation vote of its customer service agents.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Texas, argues that the Communications Workers of America did not satisfy the 50 percent requirement and obtain enough authorization cards from more than 10,000 passenger and customer service agents. The lawsuit asks the court to stop the National Mediation Board from holding the election, which would begin May 17.
"We believe the law prohibits an election in which only a minority of agents and representatives formally expressed support for a union election. Therefore, we are asking the federal court to decide whether the appropriate law was applied in this case," said Denise Lynn, American's new senior vice president of people, in a letter to employees Thursday.
At issue is a change in the mediation board's statutes as part of the Federal Aviation Administration bill approved by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama in February.
Previously, unions had to obtain authorization cards only from 35 percent of a work group before the mediation board would grant a union representation election. The FAA bill raised that standard to 50 percent.
The communications workers union says it submitted the signatures and application for the election before the new law took effect.
American has 9,700 passenger service agents who are not in a union.
Andrea Ahles, 817-390-7631
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