Reporting Stephanie Lucero
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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) - Labor issues are heating up for American Airlines. The company’s pilots and flight attendants are rallying on Friday to show that they are unified, and have no confidence in their current management. Over 1,000 American Airlines employees are expected to be taking part in the rally at the Allied Pilots Association headquarters in Fort Worth.
After a number of speeches from flight attendant and pilot representatives, the group marched to the AMR headquarters, located down the street. Employees are calling it a “no confidence march,” and petitions are being presented that echo that feeling. The Allied Pilots Association said that over 80 percent of its members have signed the petitions in the past five days.
Flight attendants have been circulating a similar petition. And although pilots and flight attendants are taking the reins in this instance, the rally is open to all American Airlines employees. It started at 9:00 a.m. Friday morning, and the same rally is be taking place in New York City at the same time.
Workers object to the company’s request that the bankruptcy court determine the collective bargaining agreements of the unions. American Airlines executives said earlier this week that this is a necessary step to save the airline financially. “It is difficult and challenging, because it’s impacting the lives of our people,” said American Airlines Chief Commercial Officer Virasb Vahidi. “But the fact remains, this is something we have to do.”
The airline’s most recent plan, they said, would save 3,300 jobs that were originally set to be cut. The company’s other major union — the Transport Workers Union — is in the process of voting on the final offer.
This morning American spokesman Bruce Hicks released the following statement about the rally:
“We are on an incredibly difficult path right now, perhaps one of the most challenging we’ve ever faced.
“We respect the right of our unions and their memberships to voice their opinions. But the contractual changes we have proposed are necessary for our successful restructuring, and similar to the changes other airlines made in their restructurings. This process requires many tough choices and there is no easy way out.
“The good news is that we are making progress. Our unit revenue improved in the first quarter, American’s on-time performance was the best in 10 years and baggage handling was the best in our history. And just this week, we’ve announced major customer upgrades to our international widebody fleet and introduced our people to the 787 Dreamliner.
“Those are just a few of the first steps of building the new American. We’re going to remain dedicated to delivering the best possible travel experience for our customers and we are confident the future of American Airlines is incredibly bright.”
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