FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – The Allied Pilots Association has forced out its president hours after pilots overwhelmingly rejected the last, best contract offer from American Airlines.
In his resignation letter, Capt. David Bates said that he was asked by the union’s board of directors to step down. Bates agreed with the move.
Bates said that he believed the pilots should have approved the contract, but acknowledged that most pilots disagreed.
The board selected New York-based First Officer Keith Wilson to replace Bates on an interim basis Thursday afternoon. In an emailed update, the APA said Wilson and the other remaining officers would issue a joint message Thursday evening on the next steps for the organization.
Last June, the board itself was split on whether to send American’s last, best contract offer to its members. But in the end, the board under Bates’ leadership voted 9-7 to have the pilots vote on the tentative agreement.
Here is the full resignation letter from Bates-
My Fellow American Airlines Pilots:
At the request of the APA Board of Directors, I agreed late yesterday to resign as your union president. My resignation is effective immediately.
I did not take this action lightly, but based my decision on the conviction that it would be best for our union and the pilots we represent. Although I believe that ratifying the tentative agreement would have been the best course for our pilot group, the majority of our pilots signaled their preference for taking a different path. Given these circumstances, I concluded that continuing to serve as your president was not in the interests of the pilots I have been charged with representing.
I will do everything possible to facilitate a smooth transition and am likewise committed to helping ensure our ultimate success. Whatever our differences, we have much more in common with one another as professional pilots for American Airlines.
In closing, I want to thank each of you for the opportunity to serve as APA President. It has been an honor and a privilege that I will always treasure.
Captain David Bates
The union has named First Officer Keith Wilson of New York interim President.
He will serve the one year remaining in Bates’ three-year term.
In a memo to pilots Thursday evening, the union called for unity among its members:
“…The ratification process was by its nature contentious, with strongly held views on both sides. Fair enough – as a democratic organization, we should have a vigorous debate about the best solutions to the challenges confronting us. However, in advancing our collective interests during the days and weeks to come, unity will be a vital element…”
American Airlines released a statement Thursday on the APA’s rejection of their proposal, saying the bankruptcy judge would still rule on the company’s motion for the pilots contract as scheduled on August 15. The airline said the judge would postpone his ruling on the flight attendants’ contract until after their voting period ended on August 19.
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