John Ward's Days Numbered?


Nov 5, 2003
10:39 PM CDT on Tuesday, August 10, 2004

By ERIC TORBENSON / The Dallas Morning News

John Ward's days as president of American Airlines Inc.'s flight
attendants' union could be numbered.

Officials from the Department of Labor will work with the Association
of Professional Flight Attendants' accounting firm Thursday to count
16 disputed ballots from March's controversial election.

Those votes could change the outcome of the election, union and
airline officials say. At stake is American's attempt to mend fragile
labor relations at a time when one of its biggest unions is fraught
with internal turmoil.

Mr. Ward defeated Tommie Hutto-Blake initially by seven votes, and
also won by a recounted total of five votes. Candidates affiliated
with Ms. Hutto-Blake narrowly won the other three officer races for
the union representing 25,000 flight attendants.

The 16 ballots to be opened Thursday were disqualified initially
because the flight attendants who cast them either weren't considered
union members or hadn't paid current dues.

However, the Labor Department – acting on a formal complaint from Ms.
Hutto-Blake – has determined they should be counted.

Of the 16 disputed ballots, 13 are from flight attendants formerly
with Trans World Airlines Inc., a group where 99 percent voted for
Ms. Hutto-Blake. All 2,200 TWA flight attendants are among 5,527
furloughed at Fort Worth-based American, which bought TWA in 2001.

Supporters of Ms. Hutto-Blake expect her to be declared the winner.
In a phone interview, she declined to comment before Thursday's
ballot opening.

"It's over," declared one Hutto-Blake supporter who declined to be

In a recorded hotline message to flight attendants Tuesday, union
spokeswoman Liz Geiss said the ballot counting Thursday would not
result in "an immediate change in office holder." Neither Ms. Geiss
nor Mr. Ward returned calls.

The Department of Labor hears labor complaints when elections go
wrong at unions. If the new vote totals switch the election's
outcome, the Labor Department officials Thursday could remove Mr.
Ward from office and certify the March election in Ms. Hutto-Blake's

It could also do nothing and wait for the APFA board of directors to

Labor spokeswoman Diana Petterson could only confirm Tuesday that the
investigation at APFA was ongoing.

The developments are the latest chapter for a union that's used to
brutal infighting. Mr. Ward overwhelmingly won his election in 2000
to run the union.

Like all American union heads, he faced intense criticism as APFA
gave up $340 million in annual wages and benefits to help American
stay solvent last spring.

The TWA flight attendants have sued the union to regain the seniority
they lost when American bought the assets of bankrupt TWA.

Ms. Hutto-Blake has promised to settle those suits, which so far
haven't resulted in judgments for former TWA workers.

American flight attendants are concerned that the suits might restore
TWA flight attendants' seniority, forcing more layoffs of American
flight attendants.

Unlike many airline unions, the flight attendants' union allows
furloughed members to vote in elections.

In St. Louis, where TWA was based, 2,137 of 2,149 members voted for
Ms. Hutto-Blake.
"Unlike many airline unions, the flight attendants' union allows
furloughed members to vote in elections."

Where the hell did they get this statement?
SkyLiner said:
"Unlike many airline unions, the flight attendants' union allows
furloughed members to vote in elections."

Where the hell did that get this statement?
probably from the spin doctors at apfa
s80dude said:
probably from the spin doctors at apfa
Very true, I have never heard of that before. jw will work his miscommunication staff til the end.