FORT WORTH (CBS 11 NEWS) – Tensions are rising once again between American Airlines and its pilots. That’s because the carrier has just started implementing new work rules, pay, and benefits after getting a bankruptcy judge’s OK to toss out their old contract, called their “Green Book”.
Tom Hoban of the Allied Pilots Association says, “They’ve clearly poured gasoline on the fire here. You’ve got 8,000 pilots who are not going to standby and watch the company destroy their profession.”
Just Wednesday, the union started allowing pilots to vote whether to call for a strike. The process will end October 3rd, but under the law, they’re not allowed to strike during bankruptcy.
Pilots say they’re angry because under the new terms, they’ll face reduced pay, longer hours, and will no longer receive extra pay to fly to Hawaii, Alaska, and other international destinations. Their pensions will be frozen, and the company won’t contribute to their new 401K.
Hoban says, “The loss of retirement, the loss of quality of life, really, it’s just the beginning.”
American is also eliminating the guarantee protection for military leaves for pilots. American says that’s in keeping with the rest of the industry, and was part of the tentative agreement that pilots rejected last month.
In addition, pilots say American will outsource more flying because the carrier will have more codeshare flights with Alaska Airlines, and Hawaiian Air. So passengers will notice while some flights say American, they’ll really be on another airline. The pilots say they’re surprised by the new terms now that American has thrown out what they call their “Green Book,” also known as their contract.
For its part, American Airlines spokesman Bruce Hicks says it needs to implement these new terms to restructure. “We will continue to work on a consensual agreement toward a new contract with the pilots.”
The pilots union says the airline hasn’t approached them about re-starting talks on a new contract.
The union points out it favors a merger with US Airways — and that it took only six weeks to come to a tentative labor agreement with that airline if there is a merger.