American Airlines CEO Tells Employees That Republican Voting Laws Target People Of Color

At an American Airlines employee meeting last week, a pilot asked CEO Doug Parker why the company needed to interject itself into political issues – like state election law – to please people in media and on twitter. After all, customers fly American to get from point A to point B, not for its position on voting rules, so why upset people on the other side?

View From The Wing reviewed a recording of Parker’s response,

To us this isn’t a partisan issue. We don’t get involved in partisan politics, we don’t want to. It’s an equity issue. The statement we’ve made is in support of our team.

Let me back up and tell you how we came to that conclusion. Anyone I think would agree that it’s important there be integrity in the voting results so no one’s going to dispute that.

The issue that’s arisen in these efforts and these bills is they’ve become very divisive. They tend to be on political lines but they also tend to be on lines of people of color versus others, and that’s what we saw.

So as soon as Delta was being asked and making statements in Georgia, I started getting questions from a lot of team members about where’s American on this? People of color primarily feeling as though these laws are making it much harder for people like them to vote. And given the history of this country, that’s something that’s happened in the past, and they’re very much concerned that’s what’s happening again.

So you have that concern coming from team members. About the same time there’s a letter from 70-odd black executives, CEOs and others, saying hey business we have to get involved in this. This is an effort to restrain the right for people like us to vote. And then on top of that the NAACP the legal defense fund has filed a opposition to the Texas law. And that’s when we made a statement was when the Texas Senate passed something, and we were being asked by a lot of our team to get involved and by the way the Delta issue was already going on.

We looked at all that, and again not by any means trying to make one side happy or the other but doing what we do which is trying to bring people together on a very divisive issue that’s divided along cultural lines to say we’re opposed to this.

And without getting into great detail, I’m happy to if anyone who wants to, but when you look at as we did the provisions that are in that Texas law – things like not allowing polling centers to be open except 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. that makes it harder for working people to get there, certainly people who work off-shift. Only having a certain number of polling positions per polling office, so if you’re in an urban area you’re probably going to have a longer line than someone in a rural area. Things that people of color feel as though as designed to make it harder for them to vote.

So anyone my short answer to all of this is we’re not trying to pick a side with Democrats or Republicans or voting integrity or not, but we are absolutely going to stand with our black employees and our latino employees when they feel like – and we can make a difference and what we say is important – and today in this country it is.

…We feel very strongly. We did the same thing by the way on things like bathroom bills in North Carolina and Texas, which I’m proud of irrespective of anybody’s politics it’s about pulling people together, it’s about supporting our team.

And by the way there’s a business issue that comes out of this. On those bathroom bills, what happened when North Carolina passed theirs? They lost the NBA All Star Game, they lost Bruce Springsteen concerts, they lost travel. That’s what’s going to happen and it’s happened now in Georgia. They lost the Major League Baseball All Star Game. They’re going to lose travel. That affects us.

I don’t want to say that’s the full reason, we didn’t do it primarily because of business reasons, we did it for what I said, in support of our team. But it does have business reasons.

The more we divide ourselves, and the more divisive we become, the less likely it is that people are going to travel to states that take divisive stances, and that’s not good for us either.

…The short answer is this is not trying to make one side happy or the other. We knew full well the easiest – I was about to say the easiest thing was to stay out of it, that’s not the easiest thing. I think there was virtually no chance we could stay out of it. You have to take a stand on these things. We were asked to take a stand and so we did.

In 2017 the NAACP issued a ‘travel warning’ against flying American Airlines after Womens March Co-Chair and Louis Farrakhan supporter Tamika Mallory, traveling to Al Sharpton’s daughter’s wedding, was kicked off a flight in a dispute over a seat (she reported changing her middle seat to an aisle on a kiosk, but was denied that aisle seat).

Since then Parker has become heavily focused on issues of race. He reports wearing a Black Lives Matter wristband since last May and had a viral conversation with a Southwest Airlines flight attendant about race prompted by his reading White Fragility on board.

Listening to him talking about voting bills, he comes across as very sincere. The statement American issued on the Texas law was far more milquetoast than what Parker said to directly. The statement seemed as though American was pressured to speak out after Delta had done so ham-handedly (opposing Georgia’s law after claiming credit for its final form).

Parker sees himself as a protector, it’s also with how he described his legacy before the pandemic, that his mission is to make sure employees always have a job they can count on and feel taken care of (yet he managed to furlough more of them during the pandemic than any other airline CEO).

This isn’t the first time recently that Parker has dunked on Republicans. He was a Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton donor, and while he’s given to Republicans in the past decade that’s tended to skew towards the politically useful such as home-state Senators and members of Congressional committees with influence over airlines.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. @Jackson – go ahead, throw some racial slurs around while you are at it…you know you want to. Get it off your chest already.


  2. At least people like Jackson Waterson are open about their racial biases. Leftists like UA-TDS claim to be anti-racist, which in fact is racist, and are only too happy to sling vulgar slurs and insults at those who disagree with them. If you read Waterson’s comments with even a tiny bit of comprehension, you will see that he advocates for individual liberty opposed to the state. He rightly recognizes that the War on Drugs is one of the most destructive and oppressive programs of the state and it disparately hurts black folx. There is no way to legislate away private racial bias. Any attempts to do so will require tactics far worse than any alleged racism.

    Those who hysterically declare that the Georgia voting law is a return to Jim Crow are disingenuous and/or ignorant. The law actually increases voting days and mandates expansion of resources at polling places with wait times longer than an hour. The law is less restrictive than those in Democrat-controlled states like Delaware and New York. People who think that requiring ID to vote is racist reveal their own racism and condescension. Black folx are quite capable of getting proper identification and making it to the polls. Of course, progressivism has been racist since its rise in the late 19th century. Even that great progressive Woodrow Wilson has been cancelled by his progeny.

  3. @Desdi3C – quoting Rasumussen, the official poll of the Right? Great source.

    @Joe – u bummed out bro about the reveal Q? Just a guy behind the scenes…must really suck to have all that fandom go down the drain!

    @cargocult – the fact that you repeatedly and dismissively refer to Black people as “black folx”, doing your best to minimize them, shows that you too are a small-minded racist (no matter who you think you smartly quote) & believe in your own native superiority, even if you aren’t as open about it as the aforementioned white nationalist J.W.

  4. UA-NYC,

    Any fair minded person on here who looking at your comments spewing hate and vitriol and indiscriminately using the term racist can see who is the one here that has their heart twisted by hate. As clearly hyper partisan as you are you and your opinions cannot be taken seriously. As a black gay man I don’t want anything to do with your activism that you are so blindly pushing, we don’t need your sort trying to help us! Hyper partisan SJWs like you are unable to comprise, unable to empathize and tear people and their connections apart not to bring people together to solve problems. You clearly are passionate but misguided and full of hate, don’t let that hate burn you up!

  5. Anyone with half a brain that has heard Parker go into his “snake oil” salesman pitch understands what a phony he is. What hypocrisy to start off by say American doesn’t get into politics and then try and justify his actions behind a bunch of smoke and mirrors. A classic socialistic deflection away from the issue. If he is what he purports to be he should just stand up and admit in the sorry state of current business world it is run by a bunch of spineless executives who wouldn’t dare stand up to the shakedown down tactics of the extremist left…led by the black agitators.

  6. So I guess by requiring Real-ID’s, American Airlines must be racist. I mean, only white people know how to get an ID right?

    BTW, “people of color” sounds a lot like “colored” to me.

  7. You do not need an ID to vote in most states. I have voted in 3 states in 45 years. NJ, PA, and IL. Not one requires an ID to vote. I was an election judge for the 2020 election in IL. Only times, we ask for ID is for same day registration. We compare signatures. If the signature matches what they signed with ID at the County Clerk’s office, when registering, we have to let them vote.

    So you all ragging about having IDs to vote is just utter BS! Most states don’t require it! Never have and probably never will. But you just keep believing all the lies about illegals voting. I can guarantee you it is not happening.

    Oh, and this utter BS about needing an ID to fly. Flying is a privilege. Voting is a Constitutional right!!!

  8. UA-TDS does not know what race or nationality I am, but in his (anti-racist. progressive) mind, I am an enactor of white supremacy. Black folx are just a prop for him.

  9. I have been voting by mail because of my age allows me to do so. Nevertheless, when I registered after I moved to this state, I had to get a new drivers license which required my old one.
    As such, and at the time, I chose my affiliation to a party to vote with the Dept. of Motor Vehicles which automatically registered me to vote by mail.
    Therefore, no need to present any form of ID in the future, since it is considered that from that point on, your signature has validity and a way of comparison has been established.

  10. Half ass operation. Worry less about PC and concentrate on operation. Your an airline Sparky.

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