Topic: APFA BOD Special Meeting Recap by STL Base Chair
Today, the APFA Board of Directors held an emergency Board of Directors meeting. It lasted 9 hours. Greg and I were permitted to attend 45 minutes of it. The other 8:15 was spent discussing â€œlegal strategyâ€ over the lawsuit that was filed in New York over the voting fiasco. One thing I did find out was that John admitted that the TA was, in fact, official when it was ratified by the membership on April 16, 2003. Darn â€“ I forgot to tell George Price, the â€œCommunications Director.â€ When asked several days ago, he said that he didnâ€™t know the answer to that. Maybe John will tell him, too.
Today, the Union accused AA of wrongdoing. It accused AA of failing to divulge critical financial information. It accused AA of interfering with the election process. Sounds good so far, doesnâ€™t it? And exactly how does the Union intend to handle it? It will be re-voting the Tentative Agreement through a 30-day mail paper ballot. Ballots will be sent out in 4 â€“ 5 days. And, the Union will â€“ once again â€“ be championing a YES vote. I can see the campaign buttons now. â€œAA lied [about the pensions] â€“ Vote YES.â€ â€œAA made people vote yes â€“ Vote YES Again.â€ Kind of catchy, isnâ€™t it?
Except for the buttons, I am not making this up.
In the meantime, the Company will be implementing the TA effective May 1, 2003. So, notwithstanding the fact that AA was dishonest â€“ notwithstanding the fact that the Company â€œtaintedâ€ the voting process â€“ notwithstanding the fact that the Union is pretending to start the voting process all over again, it â€“ apparently â€“ will be allowing AA to make changes to the CBA even before the ink is dry on the new YES vote that it is counting on. I guess that is how things are done here at American.
So, letâ€™s look at recent history one more time. On April 15, the Flight Attendants voted NO. That wasnâ€™t what the Company or the Union wanted so they agreed to extend the vote. They got the YES vote that they both wanted. Unfortunately, news of senior management pensions and retention bonuses filtered down to the rank-and-file. Flight Attendants were understandably outraged. Here we were - giving up concessions valued by the Union in excess of $400M and receiving credit for $340M. That, in itself, was appalling enough. Apart from the gutted Contract, we found out that the American Board of Directors had approved payment of nearly $47M in payments to fund senior management pensions. Who do you think paid for those payments? If you donâ€™t know, take a look at your paycheck â€“ if you still have one â€“ after May 1. You should be able to figure out that answer pretty quickly.
John Ward claimed to be â€œoutraged,â€ too. After all, he said so in interviews and in newspaper reports. He said so in his hotline. He was so outraged that he is now â€“ once again - campaigning for a YES vote. Did the Company that hid things from us give the money back? Not hardly. Okay, so what did the Flight Attendants get in return for the $47M? Did we see any improvement in the TA? No. Did we see the TA shortened? No. Did we see underfly restored? No. Did we see per diem reinstated? No. Did we see furlough pay reinstituted? No. Did we see one Flight Attendantâ€™s job saved? No. Did we see any reduction in the medical costs we will be paying â€“ whether on leave or while working? No. So what exactly did we get for turning over $47M of our money to the Company? Well, possibly, weâ€™ll see Don Carty fired. The Union will call it a great victory for us because we remained united and tell us how we were able to make American management â€œaccountableâ€ for its actions. Unfortunately, that â€œvictoryâ€ doesnâ€™t pay your bills. Tell me, is Don Carty worth $47M of our contract?
Oh sure - Don Carty may be used as a scapegoat by the American Board of Directors and the Union. [Maybe shooting yourself in the foot is a Canadian sport]. Unfortunately, however, it will remain business as usual for the rest of AA management and the Union. What I just witnessed today was beyond belief. Over the next couple of weeks, you will see this Union leadership telling you that you should vote YES. After all, it could be worse. We would be facing bankruptcy if we voted NO. Yes, it actually COULD be worse. We could vote YES and STILL be facing bankruptcy and more givebacks.
Gee, I guess John Wardâ€™s outrage was the 24-hour variety.
Who voted for the resolution to re-do the voting? Every Board member except one. Thatâ€™s right â€“ I didnâ€™t vote for a revote. Why not? Because â€“ and I hate to sound like a broken record - it is the same horrible TA. Because it doesnâ€™t change what happened with senior management pensions. Because it didnâ€™t change the fact that the Union is allowing the Company to implement a TA that should never have been implemented in the first place. Because the fact that the Union and the Company interfered with the election process is now swept under the rug. Thatâ€™s yesterdayâ€™s news. I donâ€™t know â€“ maybe that is how APFA and AA play together. Maybe I just donâ€™t understand the rules. Quite frankly, if that is how the game is played, Iâ€™d rather not play. Too many people â€“ most notably Flight Attendants get hurt in the process.
So, if I didnâ€™t vote for the resolution, what did I want? It was fairly simple: As I told the rest of the Board, I wanted the April 15 â€œrealâ€ vote reinstated. (The one that wasnâ€™t tampered with). Of course, that didnâ€™t happen. Youâ€™ll have to ask Greg but I got the distinct impression that the majority of the Board believed that they had really stood up for the APFA membership and made things better. Better for whom?
We will be in Court on April 30. Weâ€™ll be telling our story to the judge. Hopefully, she wonâ€™t like what happened anymore than we do.
And yes, folks, Truth is stranger than Fiction. The most important thing is to never lose your sense of humor. It came in handy today at the Board of Directors meeting. Unfortunately, in the end - there was very little to laugh aboutâ€¦.
It is now 1:05 AM and I have finally gotten home from DFW.
Finally, on a serious note, by the time some of you read this, it is very likely that Don Carty will be gone and Bob Crandall will be back at the helm. No, I do not have a crystal ball but I am hearing that the AA BOD will be issuing a â€œno-confidenceâ€ vote in Don tomorrow.
For those of us watched Bob Crandall across the aisle, his management style can only be described as â€œlegendary.â€ Nicknames aside, he and his employees had a true â€œlove-hateâ€ relationship. While it is difficult not to recognize his incredible success, it is equally difficult to deal with the knowledge that he â€œintroducedâ€ both B and C scale wages to Flight Attendants. George Priceâ€™s comment that he â€œwelcomedâ€ Bob Crandall is foolish at best.
This changes the whole dynamic of bankruptcy. While a Chapter 11 bankruptcy would be seen as a failure on Don Cartyâ€™s part, it could be viewed as a good â€œbusiness moveâ€ on Mr. Crandallâ€™s part. Mr. Carty counted on UALâ€™s liquidation as part of his business model for AA. That was a mistake. Many of us have watched Bob Crandall on talk shows recently. He has been a strong advocate of â€œre-regulation.â€ While that has not happened, I can assure you that he has studied the UAL situation as a handbook for AAâ€™s improved success.
I am sure that the AA BOD is anxious to absolve itself of the guilt (and liability) for allowing this current management teamâ€™s mismanagement. If, in fact, the BOD is successful in bringing Mr. Crandall back, he will be given a â€œblank checkâ€ to turn the airline around. What the airline would look like only Mr. Crandall knows. I am sure that would be markedly different. Whatever euphoria there might be with his return, I bet the â€œhoneymoonâ€ would be short-lived.
Congratulations on being one of the few people on this message board to actually tell the truth!
1) John Ward knew last week that the TA was legally ratified. Why spend APFA dollars to hold another vote that is meaningless? And isn''t that money out of every F/A''s pocket that they can now ill afford?
2) The SERP that everyone is so up in arms about was actually established as far back as January 1985. And if you look at any of the Fortune 500 companies they all have SERP''s in place for their key officers and further more every major airline has retention bonuses so that they don''t lose senior management during the current economic downturn. Why would AA want to risk their intellectual assets right now?
3) When officers retire from key corporations many of them receive consulting contracts for up to 1 year to handle the transition of responsibilities and knowledge transfer. Why would AA be different?
The APFA had to find an outlet for the revolt from the members when the 10K was made public. Unions exist only as long as there is no trust between employees and management. This was another instance where that premise could be fueled. FUD. Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. Look at the rumors on this message board alone. I was told by a 15 year F/A this past weekend that she voted "no" to the TA because she couldn''t afford the $800 a month paycut. Unfortunately, she could not grasp the fact that her current pay structure and benefit package is not an option. When I pointed that out she replied "that isn''t what the union is telling us." Hmmm.
What would happen if everyone left their emotions and egos at the door and simply sat down and worked together to achieve the single task of saving the airline? Isn''t it time to focus on the task at hand and demand that the union leaders, the AA Executives and all of the other employees get on with it? Time is not a friend of AA''s when you report a $1.04B loss for a 3 month operating period. And AA is now ill prepared to go into bankruptcy as it paid down debt last week with the understanding from APFA and the other unions that they would pass the TA''s. Everyone''s back is against the wall now. There are no winners unless you get this back on track. And it is going to take the rank and file stepping up to the union leaders to get this done.