Good or Bad? American Airlines Pilot Union Rejects Contract

WSJ is reporting that the pilots union at American Airlines has rejected the airline’s latest offer.

IMO, this was a better offer than the pilots are likely to get if a bankruptcy judge voids their contracts.  I also think it’s a virtual certainty the judge will void their contracts.

So, is this good or bad for AMR?

On one hand, you could say it’s good in that they’ll ultimately end up with more labor savings by imposing more draconian terms on the pilots (and any other unions that fail to reach an agreement).

On the other hand, United is a great example of an airline (so is USAirways) that forced terms on their unions that, in large part, have lead to extremely acrimonious relationships between the unions and the respective airlines.

I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about this.  I’ve always felt that AA’s employees give a damn about their customers in a way that other legacy airlines don’t.  They’re not Southwest employees, but they go out of their way to help people be a bit more comfortable while they get where they’re going.  I’d hate to lose that because of a bitter ending to contract talks.

That being said, some of these contract battles have been going on for the better part of the last decade.  And the employees are still good to their customers.

The progress with the pilots’ union is what got all the other unions back at the table with AA on what seemed to be genuine negotiations for both sides.  I’ll be curious to see if this development leads the other unions to take a harder tack.  They may think there’s safety in numbers, though I suspect they would be wrong.

What do you think?  What’s the ultimate outcome here?


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