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Sat, Feb 02, 2008

Over 1,500 APA Members Rally In Face Of Contract Talks

Nine Meetings Held Across Country; 143 Pilots Retired Thursday

The Allied Pilots Association (APA), collective bargaining agent for the 12,000 pilots of American Airlines, tells ANN the union conducted large-scale member meetings at nine locations nationwide Friday, to send a signal to management at American Airlines. The rallies come as both sides continue to squabble -- with little actual progress -- in ongoing contract negotiations.

According to the union, over 1,500 pilots attended the meetings, which featured a pre-recorded motivational message by APA President Captain Lloyd Hill, presentations by other APA officials and an update on the contract talks. The union meetings took place in Boston, New York, Washington, DC, Miami, Chicago, St. Louis, Dallas/Fort Worth, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

"By coming together on the same day in such large numbers, our pilots are sending an unmistakable message to American Airlines management," Hill said. "We are unified and determined to restore our profession."

Hill asserts pilot pay rates at the airline are almost identical to what they were in 1992. Consequently, the pilots’ purchasing power has declined 33 percent since that time due in inflation. In contrast, the carrier's management has collected numerous stock-based bonuses in that time... while American skirted the shoals of bankruptcy, but never entered Chapter 11.

"It’s well past time to repay our sacrifices," Hill said. "Back in 2003 when our pilots agreed to make deep concessions to help American Airlines avoid bankruptcy, management’s mantra was ‘shared sacrifice, shared reward.’ So far our pilots have only experienced the ‘sacrifice’ portion of that equation, despite our airline’s return to profitability and the riches management has lavished upon itself.

"Enough is enough -- we’re ready to collect our reward," he said. "Our members need and deserve a prompt resolution to these negotiations," he said. "Back in 2003 management demonstrated the ability to negotiate a deal quickly when its interests were at stake. It’s time to do the same for our pilots."

In related news, on Thursday 143 American pilots retired, opting to leave the airline early in order to lock in the value of their retirement plans, linked to the airline's stock price. As ANN reported, the carrier opted to proactively cancel several flights in February -- including a number on Friday -- in anticipation of the move.

American maintains the cancellations are due to the retirements, caused by the current US economic slump... but the union asserts it's further proof American is trying to do too much, with far too few pilots.

FMI: www.alliedpilots.org, www.aa.com

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