Pilots at American Airlines are playing hardball, rejecting a generous holiday compensation bonus in hopes of securing a more lucrative long-term contract. Whatever the final result of the negotiations, passengers stand to be the cannon fodder in what is warming up to be a very messy holiday travel season. Let’s hope pilots and management can work out a deal before it is too late.
Pay Dispute Between American Airlines, Pilots Threatens To Torpedo Holiday Travel
The union representing pilots at American Airlines turned down a deal that would have given pilots generous bonuses during the busy holiday travel season, including:
- 150% pay simply for working during the holiday periods
- November 23 through November 29, 2021
- December 22, 2021, through January 2, 2022
- 200% pay for picking up trips during the period above
American is also offering complimentary positive space travel for pilots who need to commute from their homes to their work base.
Sounds pretty generous, doesn’t it? It means a senior 777-300ER pilot would make up to $682/hour. But the Allied Pilots Association (APA), the union representing pilots at American Airlines, has rejected the deal. In fact, the pilot counsel unanimously rejected it. The APA argues that there can be no temporary fix for a new contract:
While understanding that its rejection creates a disparity among our fellow work groups that have accepted management’s proffered incentives, the Board concluded that the need to achieve meaningful permanent improvements in a new collective bargaining agreement must remain APA’s focus.
APA has communicated at the bargaining table, and through higher level discussions, its ongoing frustrations with the pace of Section 6 negotiations and that meaningful Section 6 progress must be made. It’s ironic that fixes to many of the operational concerns that led management to offer incentives are directly addressed in APA’s Section 6 proposals, which management has been holding for months. APA’s targeted approach is designed to advance the contract, address quality-of-life concerns, and find sustainable solutions to improve operational integrity.
Section 6 refers to the Railway Labor Act and governs negotiations over pay raises.
So in a nutshell:
- American Airlines has offered pilots (and all work groups) more pay over the holidays in order to minimize delays and cancellations
- Pilots have rejected that
- Unless one side is bluffing, passengers face a rough holiday season ahead full of delays and cancellations
- Why? Because if pilots won’t work for 200% pay, will they really work for 100% pay over the holidays? Unlikely.
If American Airlines cannot shortly reach a deal with its pilots, it should start proactively cancelling and shuffling flights now to account for “sick” pilots.
I have ZERO sympathy for pilots at American Airlines who LIE about being sick in order to extract monetary concessions from American Airlines. Shame on them for employing such tactics in their “fight for a better life” when even entry level mainline pilots make substantially above median income in the USA.
That said, you can’t fault pilots for trying to negotiate the sweetest deal possible, especially when American Airlines finds itself in a desperate position after months (and years) of mismanagement.
But I’ve told friends and family flying American Airlines over the pilots one thing: have a back-up in place, because I fear Thanksgiving and Christmas will be very messy travel periods on AA.
image: American Airlines