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American & US Air Employees Rally On Capitol Hill

Jack Fink, CBS 11 News | CBSDFW.COM
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Hundreds of American Airlines employees rally in Washington D.C. to support the proposed merger with U.S. Airways. (credit: CBS 11 News/Jack Fink)

Hundreds of American Airlines employees rally in Washington D.C. to support the proposed merger with U.S. Airways. (credit: CBS 11 News/Jack Fink)

WASHINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – Chanting, “Let us compete together,” 300 American Airlines and US Airways  employees from all over the country came to the U.S. Capitol to rally support for the proposed $14 billion merger.

They’re mechanics, flight attendants, gate agents, pilots.

Teresa King, a gate agent for US Airways, is among those who came here on their own time.  “It’s an investment like anything.  A lot of us have invited a lot of time and effort in our companies, long-term.  We want it to survive.  I think by supporting the merger, we’ll ensure that happens.”

The merger has been stuck in a holding pattern since last month, when the Justice Department, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, and other states sued American and US Airways to block the merger.

The case will go to trial November 25th.

The government argues a combined airline will raise fares and reduce competition.

During the rally, Laura Glading, the President of APFA, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, which represents American’s flight attendants told the crowd,  “This merger will happen.”

Glading says she and other labor leaders met with William Baer, the Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s antitrust division this morning, and explained why the airlines need to merge.

“They cannot compete against Delta and United. We spoke about the fairness issue that 3 other mergers were approved under similar circumstances.”

When asked if Baer had a response, Glading said, “They didn’t want to talk about the trial.”

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined comment.

North Texas members of Congress – from both parties – joined the rally, including Democrat Marc Veasey who says he’s writing a letter to President Obama later this week.

Veasey says he will be “Urging the DOJ reconsider their position on this, and sit down and negotiate and come to terms so we can move on and so we can have a strong airline for the entire country.”

Republican Michael Burgess of Lewisville stood with employees here.

He says even though a judge will rule on the merger, the rally is important.”The DOJ needs to hear that.  Believe it or not, this White House does respond to public opinion, and this will help sway that argument.”

A handful of Employees for American Eagle came here to express their concerns.

Mary Oswald, an American Eagle flight attendant says, “We’re not opposed to the merger, we’re just questioning what the future is for American Eagle.”

American Airlines has said its regional carriers will be a part of its expanded network under a merger.

It was just last year, when American’s union employees picketed against airline executives.

But now, they’re working together after years of sour relations.

Glading of the APFA says, “It’s the new airline industry, new American Airlines. We’re tired of fighting, and we decided if we’re going to do this, we’re going to do it together.”

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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