Below is a statement issued on 29Apr03 delivering the details of the process used by the TWU International and the TWU-ATD, Air Transport Division, which forced this contract on the Employees without their Knowledge or Informed Consent.
The statement below supports the contention of Local 562 that the due process guaranteed to the membership under the TWU Constitution and the LMRDA was violated through the acceptance of an agreement by the TWU International and the TWU ATD, Air Transport Division.
April 29, 2003
Press Release: [SIZE= 12pt]AIRCRAFT MAINTENANCE TECHNICIANS, SUPPORT, AND SUPPLY PERSONNEL OF THE TRANSPORT WORKERS [/SIZE][SIZE= 12pt]UNION[/SIZE][SIZE= 12pt], AFL-CIO [/SIZE]
[SIZE= 12pt][/SIZE] CALL FOR CHANGES IN MANAGEMENT WAGES, STAFFING, AND HOW THEY TREAT THE EMPLOYEES TO BRING TRUST BACK TO EMPLOYEES
The Transport Workers Union of America â€“ AFL-CIO, Aircraft Maintenance, Support and Supply Personnel Presidentâ€™s for American Airlines in Dallas, Fort Worth, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Miami, and San Francisco, today are outlining their concerns with the recent events that lead to the Transport Workers Union of America International agreeing to a newly restructured concessionary agreement for all TWU members at American Airlines. The purpose of this agreement is to keep American Airlines from entering bankruptcy and is being done without a membership revote.
Late last week, Local Presidents were notified via a conference call of the TWU Internationalâ€™s acceptance of their renegotiated â€œRestructured Consensual Agreementâ€ (with enhancements); the first agreement was previously ratified by slight majority of the membership the week prior.
The day after the membership narrowly approved the deal on April 15, 2003, the Union was notified that American executives quietly kept retention bonuses for themselves and had established a pension trust for 45 senior officers; the discovery of which had union members and non-union employees enraged and placed the negotiated agreements in jeopardy. At that time Jim Little, TWU Air Transport Director stated, â€œThe Company''s conduct has called this basic understanding into question and, in my view, tainted the ratification process that led to these agreementsâ€. He also stated â€œNevertheless, in order for these agreements to accomplish their purpose they must be credible. The only way to assure credibility is to allow a full re-vote with the full memberships knowledge of all relevant company actionsâ€.
On Thursday, April 24, 2003, during a conference call with all TWU Local Presidents throughout the American Airlines system, Jim Little and other TWU International personnel along with their legal advisors told the Local Presidents that all three-labor groups on the property were able to negotiate â€œenhanced modifications to the agreementsâ€ during marathon meetings with the company. Included in these discussions were both Senate and House representatives who were there to help assist the two parties to come to an agreement. The enhancements achieved were made due to former CEO Don Cartyâ€™s actions and were finalized by the approval of the AMR Board of Directors.
While the TWU International had notified the membership that a re-vote on the contractual concessions would take place, their position changed in these last minute negotiations and stated, â€œno re-vote will take placeâ€. It was explained to the Presidents; that American Airlines was going to file for Bankruptcy and the agreements needed to be completed to better the unionâ€™s chances in bankruptcy. One legal representative stated,â€ it is better to have something to argue from in bankruptcyâ€. He likened going into bankruptcy without the agreements in place as to â€œgoing to a gun fight without a gun.â€ The rest of the discussion was based on the assumption that the APFA Flight Attendants were not going to concede their position in regard to sending the agreement out for a re-vote. The flight attendant leadership had also taken the same position as the TWU, demanding a re-vote take place. It had also been stated to the leadership of all three unions that the AMR Board of Directors would not allow for a re-vote and that if any of the unions still insisted they would go ahead with the bankruptcy filing, which would in affect nullify the time necessary for any voting process.
Based on the information provided by the TWU International Attorneys; the TWU International leadership agreed that the consensual package, prior to a Chapter 1113C filing would be best for all the members, if AMR does in fact file for such protection. There was no vote taken by the TWUâ€™s Presidents; the acceptance was based on the TWU Internationalâ€™s authority to ratify the â€œconcessionary package with enhancementsâ€ in accordance with the TWU Constitution.
Questions surrounding problems with the initial ratification vote for the TWU membership remain an issue being pursued in the Federal Court of New York. This action is being supported by union locals in New York, Dallas, Fort Worth, Miami, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago. â€œWe feel that the membership did not have all the information contained in the agreement to make an informed decision prior to voting, this is in addition to the problems with the ratification process itselfâ€ said Chuck Schalk President Local 562 in New York.
The Presidents and the Union Leadership have endorsed Gerard Arpey as an individual with the ability to make the right choices and much needed changes at American Airlines. Many remain skeptical, due to the fact that he has been involved in major decisions and the â€œunprofitableâ€ running of the company in recent years. Given his responsibilities at the time, he was clearly in on the decision to purchase TWA. Aside from the cost of the acquisition, TWA continues to drain cash from AMR. Arpey was also part of the special trust and executive bonus scandal. As COO and President of American, he was and is a beneficiary of the special trust. His first test will be to dissolve the trust and put the funds back in the AMR Corporation; however if he keeps the special trust and does not return the money to the company, this would only solidify the fact that there is no "shared sacrifice" between labor and executives.
On the subject of salary cuts, Mr. Arpey must lead the way by example. This can be accomplished by significantly reducing all levels of managements base pay and staffing, (the minimum cut being proportionate; to wage percentage cuts and reduced staffing the unions are making), of course with the same commitment for a minimum of five years. Additionally, cancel all unexercised and unsold stock options (held by all management personnel) and halt any further issuance of stock option awards to senior management. Lastly, place a moratorium on all long term incentive payouts and stop any additional actions by the compensation committee (such as back door bonuses). â€œNot only are we convinced this move would begin to turn the finances around at American, the side affect would inspire and motivate employeesâ€ said Don Videtich President Local 565 in Dallas/Ft. Worth.
Moreover, the Presidents concur that there needs to be a fundamental change in how American Airlines management operates. Starting with making correct business decisions, they must adopt a new way of doing business with their unions by fostering the strategy of â€œhigh performance relationshipsâ€ that consist of honesty, shared goals, shared knowledge, and most of all mutual respect; among all employees union, non-union, and management. They need to treat their employees like the valuable assets they are; and if they did, there is no doubt this company would not only survive, but would lead the industry in all facets. The only possible way to achieve this new found trust is for the new leadership at American to make this their number one priority. The current environment that American fosters is intimidation, threats of moving work, employee layoffs, etc. This 1950â€™s style managing needs to stop immediately or the probability of American being the leader in the airline industry is very unlikely.
â€œSouthwest Airlines is commonly used by American Airlines management as a financial (cost for available seat mile) model for their operation, and I believe this companyâ€™s management team needs to adopt a style of managing similar to Southwestâ€™s, in reference to how they handle their employees. At this point we can only hope that this new leadership will make all the necessary changes to compete in this highly competitive marketplace, first and foremost with a complete restructuring of the bloated management ranksâ€. Videtich stated.
Local 565 - President, Don Videtich - DFW-AUS-IAH-DEN
Local 567 - President, Gary Peterson - AFW
Local 563 - President, Paul McCormick - ORD-MSP
Local 562 - President, Chuck Schalk - JFK-LGA-EWR-BOS-BDL-PHL-SJU
Local 564 - President, Mark Rasco - SFO-LAX-SJC-SNA-PHX-LAS-RNO-TUS-SAN-SEA
Local 561 - President, Todd Woodward - MIA-TPA