When they were the only work group not to come to agreement on a new labor agreement with the airline, voting down the offer that their union brought to them (and leading to an ouster of the union’s leadership), the bankruptcy court went forward allowing American to impose new terms.
The pilots are back at the bargaining table. American has proactively reduced its schedule. And the cancellations have stopped. Yesterday, for instance, there were only three cancellations across the entire American Airlines route network.
On time performance has hovered around 70% — much better but still below average.
This past week the pilot’s union even began talking up how well the negotiations have been going.
While there are some very difficult issues yet to be resolved, we feel management is clearly listening to our issues and acknowledges that they need to be addressed..Enough progress has been made to justify the continuation of negotiations next week.
There’s a tremendous amount of posturing that goes on in these sorts of negotiations. And it’s important not to put too much stock in public statements as though those statements reflect the actual bargaining positions of the parties making them.
The internal politics is complex. The last pilot union head was ousted, the new leadership needs to appear tough to their membership. And they need to make it seem like the pilots are getting something if they’re going to pass a contract.
But these public demands are sufficiently absurd that it makes me worry about the likelihood that negotiations will succeed, even factoring in that I need to not put too much stock in public statements reflecting actual bargaining positions.
The terms the pilots are working under currently are not as advantageous as those they voted down prior to the bankruptcy court acting. The pilots’ union says they don’t want just another bite at the apple they walked away from, and they don’t want anything even remotely like it. Instead, they are looking for:
* Pay rates aligned with peers at Delta Air Lines and United Airlines.
* A contract shorter than the six years American offered last time.
* An industry-standard pension.
* An equity claim in American’s bankruptcy reorganization that can be converted to stock in the new company with “floor” protection.
They want a raise. They want a raise and equity. They want a raise, equity, and a guarantee of what their stock will be worth. And they want a chance to negotiate their gains upward again very quickly.
Good luck with that!