AMR Proposal 'Shocks' Union Leaders

 - February 2, 2012, 4:49 PM
TWU International president James Little said he considers AMR's proposals 'disingenuous.' (Photo: TWU)

Transport Workers Union president James Little expressed “shock” last week at the depth of concessions AMR Corporation has asked from its employees as part of its plan to emerge from bankruptcy. The company’s “asks,” said Little, include layoffs of almost 9,000 TWU members and the closing of its Fort Worth overhaul center and a reduction in staffing at another in Tulsa in favor of subcontracting maintenance work to other companies. The TWU represents mainly maintenance and fleet service workers at American and its regional subsidiary, American Eagle.

During a February 1 press conference in Dallas, Little called the proposals “disingenuous” given the lengths to which the TWU had gone to reach a tentative agreement over the seven months before AMR, American and American Eagle all filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on November 29. “A lot of those TA’s that went out there had concessions already in [them], modifying some of the pension plans. Now they’re looking to vacate the pension plan completely,” said Little. “I think it’s disingenuous to go through a process now where you’re using the bankruptcy laws and the courts in order to get something that you weren’t able to get through working with the vendors and working with labor groups…This whole thing is bad for American and bad for America and we’re going to fight this.”

In a February 1 letter to American Airlines employees, company chairman and CEO Thomas Horton identified $1.25 billion in annual employee-related cost reductions—estimated to include some 13,000 jobs all told—among a list of some $2 billion worth of annual cost-saving initiatives also related to restructuring debt and leases, grounding of older airplanes and improving supplier contracts. American would also increase revenues by $1 billion a year through what it calls network-scale fleet optimization and product improvements, according to the letter.

Horton promised that the 20-percent cuts planned for all the company’s work groups would prove “fair and equitable” and would include management.

Meanwhile, American plans to invest an average of $2 billion a year in aircraft in an effort to build the youngest fleet in the industry by 2017. It also plans to increase departures by 20 percent over the next five years in Dallas/Fort Worth, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles and New York. Finally, it expects to invest “several hundred million dollars per year” in the modernization of its brand, products and services to attract so-called high-value customers.