As you know, United States Bankruptcy Judge Sean Lane issued a ruling late this afternoon denying AMR management’s motion to reject the Allied Pilots Association-American Airlines Collective Bargaining Agreement, marking a rare Chapter 11 victory for labor.
In his ruling, Judge Lane cited management’s stated intention of furloughing 450 pilots and the sweeping scope changes they proposed as areas where they did not make a sufficiently compelling case.
For many months now, we’ve emphasized that AMR management has overreached in their desire to extract more concessions than are warranted to support their reorganization plan in this bankruptcy. The bankruptcy process is designed to level the playing field with the competition ― not to bury us underneath it. Clearly management went well beyond what is the industry standard for bankruptcy contracts, and the judge recognized this in his decision today.
A large number of APA volunteers and advisers share credit for this favorable turn of events, including the lawyers at APA General Counsel’s office (including Kathy Krieger, Darin Dalmat, Danny Rosenthal, David Dean and Edgar James), APA’s in-house legal team (including Chuck Hairston), Fil Agusti and Joshua Taylor at Steptoe & Johnson, and Andrew Yearley and Ben Tisdell of Lazard. We would also like to thank the following individuals for their help drafting testimony and then testifying as APA’s principal witnesses in the case: Mr. Yearley, Negotiating Committee Chairman FO Neil Roghair, FO Jim Eaton (APA’s representative on the Unsecured Creditors’ Committee), APA Director of Industry Analysis Allison Clark and Technical Analysis and Scheduling Committee Chairman FO Larry Rosselot. Captain Mickey Mellerski, Captain Dave Brown, Captain Bill Boyd, FO Greg Shayman (who was instrumental in drafting APA’s declarations and analyzing management’s declarations), Scope Committee Chairman FO Tim Hamel, FO Tim Daudelin, FO Per Lovfald, FO Dave Durham, and Government Affairs Committee Chairman Captain Bob Coffman also deserve credit for volunteering to help the attorneys work through many of the difficult issues in the case. To these individuals and many others who have worked tirelessly on our behalf during the past several months, well done.
In voting down the tentative agreement, our membership asked the toughest question a labor union could ask in Chapter 11 restructuring: “what is behind that ‘1113 door?’” We now have a near-term answer—a significant setback for management, another set of 1113 court hearings and another round of bargaining.
The elation I feel today is tempered somewhat by my abiding frustration with AMR management for the many misjudgments they have made to deliver us to this juncture. AMR’s Chapter 11 filing was precipitated by AMR management’s actions—and all too often, their inaction—not by a collective bargaining agreement our pilots negotiated in good faith.
Does any right-minded person believe that erasing 60 years’ worth of bargaining history would result in a brighter future for American Airlines? Does anyone think that securing permission from a bankruptcy judge to reject our pilots’ contract constitutes effective employee relations? The answer is, once again, a resounding “no” aimed squarely at AMR management.
Your APA leadership is committed to securing a consensual, industry-standard contract that respects your sacrifices and recognizes your true worth as professionals. If AMR management one day secures the ability to impose arbitrary terms and conditions, they too will have to live with the consequences of their actions. One of those consequences will be to reinforce for all the fact that AMR’s bankruptcy isn’t just financial. Instead, what we’re seeing is a management devoid of constructive solutions to our airline’s problems, which should alarm everyone with a stake in the outcome of American Airlines’ restructuring.
As for how you can help to ensure the necessary course change, maintain professionalism at all times and do not let emotion influence your decisions. Management may be eager to engage in “hostage-taking”—don’t oblige them.
Please note that your APA leadership has dedicated additional resources to ongoing Strike Preparedness Committee operations, beginning with the resumption of Phone Watch.
If you have a question or concern, contact Phone Watch between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Central Daylight Time at tel. 817-302-2395. Also, we will be scheduling a new round of Family Awareness meetings across the system. Be on the lookout for meeting announcements and make plans to attend a Family Awareness meeting in your area.
Once again, with your decisive vote against the tentative agreement, you had the courage to ask, “What happens next?” I’m likewise certain that you have the necessary fortitude for the fight that’s certain to come.
So, while management has been denied the opportunity for now to shred our Green Book, I submit that the answer to that question is straightforward: what must happen next is appropriate recognition of our profession and our vital role in the airline’s operation.