American Airlines Public Relations contacted me to correct a previous article stating that the carrier was not going after employees directly. Now, there are two examples that this isn’t the case.
I have been chronicling the issues between labor and management at American Airlines for months. Hundreds of flight attendants, mechanics, ramp workers, reservation agents and even contract workers have reached out to me to share their stories. A whole lot of people seem to be very unhappy, some are suing the carrier, union leaders are threatening the bloodiest battle in the history of unions.
American Airlines Public Relations Asked For a Correction
A couple of weeks ago I wrote that American Airlines asked for millions in damages from American Airlines Mechanics and received the following email from Public Relations at American:
Hi Kyle — I handle labor communications for American Airlines. I was just reading your post about the dispute with our mechanics. It says “American Airlines management has asked for damages in the millions of dollars.” That isn’t true. We’ve asked for a court order directing the union to make sure its members know they should work under the status quo as required by the Railway Labor Act. We have not asked for financial damages. Could you correct that in your post?
I made the correction without further question because I intend to offer the most factual information possible. I also appreciate that American Airlines PR reached out.
Then American Airlines Asked for Workers to be Fined
Just a couple of weeks after that was posted, however, light was shed about exactly what the order looked like. I had a post on the matter ready, but Gary Leff did such a great job with his that I didn’t feel I could add anything new. He posted the actual order signed by the judge. To be 100% clear, the document itself was written by American Airlines representation and the word “proposed” was stricken from the top of the order and it was signed by the judge.
In said order, American Airlines had specific action items for union representatives including penalizing offending mechanics by the “imposition of fines or discipline” on workers who fail to comply. How would they fail to comply? Refusal “to accept overtime” which apparently is not optional in the eyes of American Airlines management.
That order was rubber stamped on July 10th.
American Airlines Penalizing Sick Workers
As if it that wasn’t enough, the state of New York brought a lawsuit against American Airlines for violations of state sick leave policies. The carrier is accused of retaliating against workers who take sick leave or not letting them take sick leave. I don’t have any information separate from what has been reported in the media, however, if true, I wouldn’t be surprised if additional suits were brought forward as a result.
The problem American Airlines management has created is that a former long term loyalist like myself finds this to be completely plausible and incredibly disappointing. As a manager with direct reports, I understand that sometimes employees take sick leave when they may not be sick. My personal policy has always been one to err on the side of the employee needing to take the day regardless and that a happy worker is a more productive worker, even if they aren’t unwell. I also don’t want them to come in when they are sick or feel that they have to – why get everyone sick?
I’d really like to write my last article about the mess that has become the world’s largest carrier-ish. I’d like to end it on the note: Labor and American Airlines have reached an agreement, both sides content. But these posts just keep popping up and ignoring them is to ignore the hundreds who have reached out to me and the tens of thousands of workers who feel the same way but have not contacted me. American Airlines is directly penalizing workers who do not work overtime or at a station for which is contractually optional, or take sick days. That’s absurd, when will the circus end?
What do you think? Is American penalizing workers directly or calling for it through the judge orders and alleged sick day treatement? Will they ever sign an amicable deal with mechanics? What about the other work groups?