DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Could a new contract be the key to saving a struggling airline? American Airlines said that they have come up with a new plan to cut costs and save even more jobs. The company is facing a bankruptcy judge for the second day on Tuesday. That hearing is happening in New York City, but the fallout will be felt in all of North Texas.
There was an agreement late on Monday by transport workers to take a vote on the new offer. That vote could come as early as next week. The deal would save American Airlines the same amount of money, but also save a “significant” number of jobs. The airline is trying to show the bankruptcy judge that it is acting in good faith.
American Airlines employees came from all across the country to march outside of the bankruptcy hearing on Monday. Transport workers and flight attendants found common ground while fighting against an employer that they said had failed them. “I’m looking for a job, after 26 years, that has a real pension,” said transport worker Danny Wilson. “I’m looking for a job I’m going to be able to retire from.”
American Airlines attorneys told a judge on Monday that the company’s current contracts with workers force it to use even more people than other airlines in order to do the same amount of work.
Employees countered, saying that they are still down 10 percent in pay cuts that they took years ago to save the airline. The employees do not want to give in again. “As long as [American Airlines tries] to jeopardize working families, you’ll see [the employees] get stronger,” said Darrin Pierce, president of the Southlake Transport Workers Union, “you’ll see them get angrier and you’ll see them fight American Airlines with all they have.”
American Airlines could save $1.25 billion each year by losing its labor contracts. In opening statements on Monday, attorneys said that the airline plans to make more money by using larger regional jets and by partnering with other airlines to sell tickets to more places. But the unions argue that this plan will not work.
The unions support a merger with US Airways, saying that the rival company has a better plan. American Airlines CEO Tom Horton sent a response letter to employees on Monday. The letter read, in part, “What’s best for our company, our people and our financial stakeholders will be determined by the facts in a disciplined manner.”
“We’ve said that, at the appropriate time, we certainly are open to such discussions,” said American Airlines spokesman Bruce Hicks. “But this is not the appropriate time.”
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