"We'll See You In Court, In The Newspapers, And On The Picket
Well, if you can't
say anything nice... then write a letter. Lloyd Hill --
president of the Allied Pilots Association, the union representing
pilots at American Airlines -- ripped into CEO Gerard Arpey in a
blistering missive sent last month, and recently obtained by the
Fort Worth (TX) Star-Telegram.
According to the paper, Hill's letter includes disparaging
comments about Arpey's leadership... as well as assertions the
airline's sick leave policies have led to pilot suicides. It also
condemns American for the lucrative bonuses several AAL execs,
including Arpey, recently received.
The letter also ends with a clear warning to Arpey. "Enjoy your
blood money and your union-busting meeting," Hill writes. "We'll
see you in court, in the newspapers, and on the picket line."
Hill -- along with newly elected union VP Tom Westbrook, and APA
secretary-treasurer Bill Haug -- sent the September 18 letter
in response to a PowerPoint presentation from airline executives,
touting cooperative efforts between labor groups and airline
management. The three men were elected in July, after campaigning
on the promise to take a harder-line with American management in
ongoing contract talks.
It looks like that promise wasn't an idle one. Union spokesman
Gregg Overman notes Hill "doesn't mince words, and that's pretty
clear from the letter. It's very direct."
"AMR executives love to listen to labor's ideas for solving
"their" problems, but have nothing to say in response to our bitter
complaints of being cut out of the rewards while management counts
the gold," Hill writes, according to the letter published on the
Star-Telegram website. "In our view, the [Joint Leadership Team]
has been a cruel hoax perpetrated upon AA employees. We were
promised regular meetings to discuss and improve our gain-sharing
programs, yet after 47 months we are still waiting for this promise
to be kept."
Hill also slams Arpey (shown at right) for American's poor
customer service ratings, stating "your solution always seems to
involve hiring another (vice president) or forming another 'team.'"
And he asserts American's drive to slash costs wherever possible --
including allegations the airline puts pressure on sick pilots to
return to work -- have led to "unprecedented suicide rates" among
"One pilot caught in this drive to reduce costs was forced to
come off his medications to try to" return to flying, Hill wrote.
"His reaction to this cessation of treatment was to leave his wife
and children behind, we are trying to reel him in before *he* kills
And, in perhaps the
most damning comment... Hill says Arpey makes the reign of former
CEO Bob Crandall look "more and more like the peak of leadership in
AMR's arc of history." The union president notes Crandall -- by no
means a favorite of labor groups, either -- at least "did not enjoy
big bonus payments unless employees received profit sharing."
As ANN reported earlier this
year, executives at American received bonuses in April
amounting to roughly $218 million. In January, former APA President
Ralph Hunter noted, "It is particularly egregious to pay large
bonuses when our airline has been experiencing such serious
operational problems. Aren't bonuses normally paid for a job well
Despite the ominous tone of Hill's letter, it is unlikely APA
could strike American Airlines any time soon... as several
federally-mandated milestones need to be reached before a strike
becomes an option.
And even if a strike were to happen, the president of the United
States can always order pilots back to work... as President Bill
Clinton did in 1997, when he ordered American pilots back to work
after a seven-minute labor action.