American Airlines: Time for Union, Management to Face Reality

Mitchell Schnurman, writing in today’s Ft. Worth Star-Telegram picked up on our theme in our PlaneBuzz Buzz Bomb award posting last week, as he commented,

“Who can handle the truth at American Airlines?

When a union official said soaring fuel prices might limit the gains on a new labor contract, there was such an outcry that he was put on administrative leave.

Never mind that John Conley of the Transport Workers Union wasn’t negotiating the new deal with management. Or that he was merely stating the obvious, a fact borne out last week after three airlines ran out of money and shut down.

Conley’s error was telling it like it is, rather than how union members want it to be — an impolitic move for someone in a political position.

But contract talks are under way with the carrier’s unions, and that makes this the silly season at American Airlines, to borrow a phrase from the presidential candidates.”

Mitchell is an equal opportunity observer. Unions and management both get a finger wagged in their face, after which he concludes,

“But try justifying the [AMR management] payouts to maintenance workers who’ve saved billions for American and never been made whole.

‘They feel betrayed,’ Conley said, ‘and I don’t know what to do about it.’

How about a reality check for all? If a fuel crisis puts a drag on labor contracts, it should put the brakes on executive bonuses, too.”


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2 thoughts on “American Airlines: Time for Union, Management to Face Reality

  1. Carl

    It is unfortunate that union leaders find “company bashing” in the public forum a productive means of negotiation. It is amazing to observe the shortsightedness of these industry players who are determined to ignore real world actualities. I can understand the ire regarding executive payouts, but the reality is that each union group signed off on these performance based bonuses during the last round of contract negotiations. Perhaps this should be a starting point for all as new agreements are ironed out.

  2. Richard F

    Now is certainly the time for realism in airline labor negotiations, although I think the executive pay issue is a red herring. Labor leadership sees the writing on the wall (look no further than TWU’s Mr. Conley and his sacking). They know that oil prices and competitive pressures have transformed the industry into one with razor-thin margins, and are at a loss as to how to inform their membership that the “good old days” are gone.

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