Why American Airlines’ Pilots Need to Vote Yes

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To say that I have been bombarded over the last week with emails pertaining to the American Airlines’ pilot TA vote would be an understatement. This is not to say that the voting that is also going on with the airline’s flight attendants and its TWU groups which did not vote for the “last best” TAs are also not important.

But we all know how this works.

The pilot union vote is the one that carries the most clout.

While I already voiced my opinion on this matter two weeks ago in PlaneBusiness Banter, I am going to say it again today — very clearly and very publicly.

If you are a pilot for American Airlines — you have to put aside the emotional firestorm that has erupted over the last several days, a result of an email that was circulated within the pilot group concerning “conversations” and “comments” involving both the airline’s Chief Pilot John Hale and SVP of Operations Jim Ream.

You have to stop thinking that there is a “deal” that is going to happen between JetBlue and American. It isn’t going to happen. Period.

You have to stop thinking that a “yes” vote is a vote in favor of the current management.

You have to stop thinking that leaving your fate to a bankruptcy judge is preferable to the contract that is now up for grabs.

You have to remember that you cannot expect a contract that is part of a bankruptcy process to begin to come close to the contract that the Delta pilots recently ratified, or the contract that the United pilots now have on the table before them. Trying to compare these two contracts to the situation that you are now looking at with American is a case of “magical thinking.”

As Ivan Rivera, Aliied Pilots Association Domicile Chairman put it so well in an email he sent out today,

Setting aside for a moment the “cannon shots” and the I Pads, it is clear that AA management has been in a horrible “state of confusion” to add to their incompetence. Confused and incompetent are not the qualities we need from our management, and this is why our primary goal should be to fight to replace them. Without new management, with vision and competence there will be no long-term future for this airline, regardless of what our CBA’s look like. I know we all want this; we just may disagree on the best way to get it done. We have two options going forward to try to achieve that goal, and each carries it’s own set of advantages and risks. The YES vote endorses APA’s strategy of “strategic and financial” leverage thru the 13.5% claim. The NO vote endorses a more traditional “labor” leverage that, depending on many factors, may result in a “financial” leverage as well. As you know, following all our advisor’s recommendations, I have endorsed the YES vote but I have also presented our options with a NO vote at our MIA Domicile meeting. I’ve also shared with you that I believe APA’s strategy following a YES vote will be the same as for a NO vote: We will continue to oppose the “stand alone” business plan-we will continue to oppose this management- we will continue seek the best path for all pilots and other AMR stakeholders, except our current management of course. However, there are two very significant risks with a NO vote: First is the loss of the economic value and power of the 13.5% claim; and second is the risk of doing irreparable damage to our SCOPE thru the outsourcing of the ERJ190-195 (DC-9 size A/C capable of decimating the bottom of our seniority list).

I agree.

I think the recent actions of management at the airline should only convince pilots even more that the current management team at the airline needs to go.

After all, there is a reason that the pilots at both Delta Air Lines and United Airlines are now looking at contracts that are much richer than the one you are now looking at. It’s called — management teams at those airlines realized years ago what had to be done in order to grow their businesses effectively. They realized that “heft” was necessary in order to be competitive on a global scale.

But voting “no” is not the way to get this management team out of the picture. Nor is it a way to tell the current management team to go F*$% themselves.

In fact, I would argue that a “no” vote makes the situation much more advantageous for the current management team.

I know it sounds contrary. I know it sounds confusing.

But the pilot group will not “win” if the current contract is abrogated.

Finally, if you are foolish enough to think management will come back and “sweeten” the deal if the contract is abrogated– while creditors are breathing down their neck to get as much money as possible out of the airline’s coffers — think again.

But this time think rationally. Not emotionally.

1 thought on “Why American Airlines’ Pilots Need to Vote Yes

  1. ConflictCounts

    Most No voters are reacting based on subjective emotionalism and the fear that they will be locked into a 10 subpar contract.
    What they are forgetting (major error) is that by voting no they have NO Section 21 disciplinary protections because the contractual protections will all be given away in the court abrogation. Moreover, they are all forgetting that any merger (inside or outside of BK) opens up the contract for further negotiation so they are NOT stuck with a 6-10 year contract.
    Most Yes voters are acting on objective valuations. Given the potential of the 13.5% equity stake, the average F/O will make 16% more per year over the six year contract — without counting on a merger or the 37th month industry average adjustment.
    Thinking optimistically, at the 37th month industry average pay adjustment, that adjustment combined with the equity stake is well over six figures and results in on par compensation with DAL/UAL during the next six years.
    Voting No is an emotional reaction without a plan (no BATNA). It never ends well.
    Add the potential of a USA merger and pilots will get a second bite at the apple because given the UAL/DAL pay rates, the AA pilots will NOT approve the USA CLA. It just won’t ratify…so they have to go back to the table. Parker needs this deal…he’ll have to improve the rates.
    Chow!

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