AA flight attendants to vote on contract proposal

AP News
Posted: Jul 20, 2012 4:06 PM
AA flight attendants to vote on contract proposal

DALLAS (AP) — The flight attendants' union at American Airlines said Friday that it would send the troubled company's latest contract offer to its members for a ratification vote.

The Association of Professional Flight Attendants declined to call it a tentative agreement and didn't indicate whether the union's executive committee endorsed the offer.

American Airlines spokesman Bruce Hicks said the offer included pay raises and more upfront money in exchange for a reduction in the company's proposal for profit-sharing. The company stuck to its proposal to eliminate 2,300 flight attendant jobs, but Hicks said the new offer added incentives for people to leave, an idea that the union advocated to reduce potential layoffs.

The offer includes a promise to support giving the flight attendants a 3 percent stake in the company after it emerges from bankruptcy protection. Pilots are voting on an offer that would give them a 13.5 percent stake. The company's creditors would be asked to support the requests.

The flight attendants' union said the terms were better than under a February proposal that included 1.5 percent pay raises but longer working hours and other changes. American filed for bankruptcy protection in November.

Union President Laura Glading said the offer was far from the agreement that union negotiators had wanted. But she said it "represents the absolute best terms our negotiating team was able to achieve during (bankruptcy) negotiations."

American and parent AMR Corp. have used special rules in the bankruptcy process to negotiate cost-cutting deals with unions. Pilots and mechanics will vote soon on company offers.

If any of the unions reject the offers, a U.S. bankruptcy judge could rule by mid-August whether American can impose pay and working terms on employees. Groups representing more than 10,000 American Airlines ground workers have ratified concessions.

AMR, which also owns the American Eagle regional airline, is trying to cut annual costs by $2 billion, with about half coming from labor. The company has lost more than $10 billion since 2001. On Wednesday, it reported a second-quarter loss of $241 million but said it would have earned $95 million excluding costs related to its turnaround work under bankruptcy protection.

The unions support a potential takeover of American by US Airways Group Inc., and have signed provisional contracts that would take effect if there is a merger while AMR is still in bankruptcy court.