American Airlines AA APA pilots picket at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport
American Airlines AA pilots picket at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport
A new contract may or may not be near at hand. So pilots of American Airlines turned out at midday Wednesday to put whatever pressure they can on management to come up with a deal that they and the Allied Pilots Association likes.
APA president Keith Wilson said he’s hopeful that negotiators for APA and AA can have a deal ready to be presented to the union’s board of directors by week’s end.
Wilson said the pilots “are out here as a sign of unity to the employees of American Airlines and the corporation that the pilots of American Airlines believe and deserve an industry-standard contract, and we’re looking forward to getting one as soon as possible.”
Asked if the board of directors would approve a deal, Wilson said, “that is the big question, and we are doing our best to meet the concerns the board expressed to us.”
The APA board was to begin meeting in special session at 3 p.m. Wednesday to review the progress of negotiations.
“If the company is willing to meet our concerns and issues on some of the big items, say, pay and scope, we think we can bring something to the board of directors quickly,” Wilson said.
Scott Shankland, APA secretary-treasurer, pointed out that an agreement between management and APA negotiators faces a long road.
“Here’s the reality of the negotiations. Yes, we’ve made significant progress. Yes, we’re at the end of bargaining. No, we do not have a deal yet,” Shankland said.
“Even if we do get a deal, we’ve got to jump through a lot of hoops. From the union side, we have to go through board ratification, which is not a given. Then we’ve got to go through membership ratification, which is not a given,” he said.
“If those pass, then the company has to get it through the unsecured creditors committee and the bankruptcy court. So there’s a pretty good path, none of which are think are for sure.”
He added that “management has the power in their hands to get this done. They’ve always had it. We’ve made very clear to them that they overreached with the concessions that they’re seeking from this pilot group, that they don’t need everything that they were asking for to restructure this airline. We want to this airline to be successful, just as they do. They were clearly overreaching.”
We sense that American’s management wasn’t pleased that the pilots were picketing as the two sides were trying to finish up details of a proposed contract.
“This is merely a distraction that adds nothing constructive to successful negotiations,” airline spokesman Bruce Hicks said.
But he also said American too is eager to wrap up a deal.
“Our focus remains on reaching a consensual agreement that provides opportunity and security for our pilots and allows American Airlines to successfully restructure.
“To continue to foster a positive environment for the successful completion of negotiations, we have deferred the implementation of those terms and conditions that impact pilot pay or that would be inconsistent with the proposals currently being discussed at the bargaining table, and we will continue to contribute 11 percent to pilot retirement plans to ensure there is no gap in benefits while a new agreement is finalized.
“We’re pleased with the progress that has been made so far and are focused on concluding negotiations in the near future.”
American Airlines pilots walk a picket line outside D/FW Airport's Terminal D. (PHOTO: Terry Maxon/Dallas Morning News)
APA president Keith Wilson, left, and secretary-treasurer Scott Shankland at Wednesday's picketing.