Skip to main content

American Airlines union: Company's letter, threats further enrage pilots

By the CNN Wire Staff
September 28, 2012 -- Updated 0350 GMT (1150 HKT)
American Airlines pilot dispute heating up.
American Airlines pilot dispute heating up.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • American Airlines sends letter for its union saying pilots are hurting the company
  • The letter threatens court action and discipline against those pilots implicated
  • A union rep says this doesn't help talks and will "further ... enrage" pilots
  • American won bankruptcy court approval to throw out the pilots' labor deal

(CNN) -- An American Airlines executive's threats to discipline pilots over delays and file legal action against its pilots union may poison already heated contract negotiations, a union spokesman said Thursday.

Earlier this week, American's management contacted the union to ask for talks on a new labor deal, according to the Allied Pilots Association. Then, on Wednesday, executive Denise Lynn wrote a letter to union leaders voicing concern about what she called "mounting evidence that certain pilots are engaging in an unlawful, concerted effort to damage the company."

She cited a number of issues that caused delays, including "unnecessary checks, increased and late-filed maintenance write-ups and "slow taxiing."

"I ask that you communicate immediately and unambiguously with your members that such work actions are unlawful and that any individuals engaging in such activities will be subject to both company and (union) discipline," Lynn wrote.

If the union "fails to comply with (its) legal duty" to discipline those responsible, she added, "we will have no choice but to seek appropriate injunctive relief."

Thomas Hoban, a spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association, referred to the letter on Thursday.

"This kind of threat is not conducive to good-faith bargaining and will only further serve to enrage an already frustrated and angry pilot group," Hoban said.

AMR, American's holding company, filed for bankruptcy in November. It has said the new working conditions imposed on the pilots, including greater use of flights by other airlines and more hours worked by the pilots, are necessary to be competitive with rival airlines such as Delta Air Lines, United Continental and US Airways, which have been through bankruptcy themselves in the past decade.

The airline is also proposing to freeze or terminate the pilots' pension plan and has stopped making contributions to that pension fund.

Earlier this month, American won bankruptcy court approval to throw out the pilots' labor agreement and impose new working conditions on its 8,000 active pilots. Pilots have already overwhelmingly rejected a tentative agreement that was more beneficial to its members than the rules imposed by the airline.

Since September 16, the airline has struggled. More than half its flights have been delayed, and more than 600 flights, or about 3% of its total schedule, have been canceled, according to flight tracking service FlightStats.com.

As it did in Wednesday's letter, airline management has blamed the problems on pilots for filing what it claims are frivolous maintenance reports. Management also said there has been an increase in pilots calling in sick.

The pilots union denies that there is an increase from historical norms in the number of pilots calling in sick. It also denies the maintenance reports being filed are for trivial items, saying they pose safety issues for the aircraft. But the union also says its members need to be more careful in strictly following rules given their contract situation.

American spokesmen Bruce Hicks said earlier that management has always wanted to reach a consensus deal with the pilots as it did with its other unions, and told the union it was ready to talk even before the delays and cancellations started.

"Our desire to talk has nothing to do with the operational disruptions we're seeing," he said.

CNN's Dave Alsup and Joe Sutton contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
October 9, 2014 -- Updated 0804 GMT (1604 HKT)
Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea -- the three countries facing the biggest health crisis -- are also facing huge bills to try and contain the virus.
September 22, 2014 -- Updated 1316 GMT (2116 HKT)
Twitter has lost its position in the top 20 coolest brands for the first time in three years.
September 25, 2014 -- Updated 1554 GMT (2354 HKT)
As the crisis in Iraq escalates, CNN looks at how Iraq could crack down on ISIS' oil riches under the guidance of its new oil minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi.
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 0842 GMT (1642 HKT)
Recep Tayyip Erdogan is Turkey's new president . So can he revitalize its economic fortunes?
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1724 GMT (0124 HKT)
Experts share their tips on cities they see as emerging financial hubs...they're not where you think.
October 9, 2014 -- Updated 1511 GMT (2311 HKT)
Growing numbers of us are willing to serve as bank, teacher or travel agent to people we have never met, and entrust them to serve us in turn.
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 1244 GMT (2044 HKT)
The European Union is stepping in to save its dairy from going sour.
August 18, 2014 -- Updated 1236 GMT (2036 HKT)
Europe's deteriorating relationship with Russia has hit the region's growth, even before new food sanctions begin to bite.
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 1634 GMT (0034 HKT)
With cyberattacks on the rise and here to stay, it's a modern-day challenge for people and businesses to get smarter about preventing them.
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 1324 GMT (2124 HKT)
Airstrikes, rebels seizing control of oil fields, plus a severe refugee crisis are a recipe for market panic. So why are Iraq oil prices stable?
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1124 GMT (1924 HKT)
Peer-to-peer finance lets businesses bypass bank loans. Creative companies with quirky ideas find new lending models advantageous.
July 20, 2014 -- Updated 1524 GMT (2324 HKT)
Evidence points to pro-Russian separatists as perpetrators of the attack and Vladimir Putin is facing questions, David Clark writes.
September 3, 2014 -- Updated 0952 GMT (1752 HKT)
CNN's Jim Boulden looks on the future of online shopping.
August 5, 2014 -- Updated 1440 GMT (2240 HKT)
The biggest Ebola outbreak in history is taking its toll in Western Africa, hitting some of West Africa's most vulnerable economies.
ADVERTISEMENT