Charlotte Observer - US Airways reaches deal with top 4 unions

Nov 20, 2002
US Airways reaches deal with top 4 unions
After three weeks of tough negotiations to wrest $200 million in union concessions, US Airways reached tentative deals late Friday with all four of its major unions.
The airline announced agreements with its mechanics and fleet service workers, represented by the International Association of Machinists, and with the Association of Flight Attendants. Members must vote on the deals.
With the agreements, the airline -- which is operating under bankruptcy court protection -- was expected to file its reorganization plan late Friday or early today.
All four unions reluctantly agreed to the deals because they saw no alternatives, union spokespersons said. At various times before and during the talks, airline executives and investors said the carrier might have to shut down if the unions didn''t agree.
I didn''t want to play poker with management, said Steve Hearn, president of the Charlotte chapter of the AFA and a union negotiator. I couldn''t make the decision for the people I represent on whether they were bluffing or not.
Ultimately, the members will have to look at this agreement and see if it''s something they can live with.
Under the deal, flight attendants would surrender some sick time, make scheduling concessions and pay more for health care. Negotiators recommended approval. IAM negotiators also agreed to concessions and recommended approval.
US Airways, the principal carrier at Charlotte/Douglas International Airport, wants $900 million in federal loan guarantees, but must submit a plan of reorganization that assures the loans can be repaid.
The Retirement Systems of Alabama, US Airways'' primary lender, said it wouldn''t provide more financing without the concessions, which were needed to make the plan viable.
Earlier, US Airways reached a deal with pilots and a tentative deal with the Communications Workers of America, which represents customer service agents. Concessions were valued at $101 million for pilots; $45 million for mechanics; $26 million for flight attendants; $14 million for fleet service workers; $11 million for CWA members and $2 million for other unions.
Pilot spokesman Roy Freundlich said, The whole approach to unions and employees was hostile. He said unions will be watching to ensure that management remains committed to the airline''s future.