American Airlines About To Get Pilots Contract? Some In The Cockpit Are Furious

American Airlines pilots know they’re going to get well paid in a new contract. The company has publicly offered a 17% raise. They want 20%, and changes to work rules that (among other things) keep the airline from altering their schedules and leaving them without lodging on the road. United’s pilot union agreed to a deal offering a 14% raise, but when they heard about what American’s pilots were on the verge of getting – and unwilling to take – they backed out of the deal wanting what American was getting.

Some pilots – including union leaders – are furious with what they appear on the verge of settling for as aviation watchdog JonNYC reports. Philadelphia-based pilots say:

  • their union is lowballing the airline
  • pattern bargaining means that’s keeping Alaska Airlines pilots from getting a better deal, and pilots at other airlines from getting a better deal
  • and that will limit their own pay, too – both in the long run and because of ‘snap up’ provisions they expect in their contract

— 🇺🇦 JonNYC 🇺🇦 (@xJonNYC) September 5, 2022

The American Airlines pilots union has been working on a new contract for years. They haven’t pulled job actions the way that they did a decade ago, helping to push out legacy American Airlines management over residual anger with former CEO Gerard Arpey. But they’ve been very publicly trying to scare passengers away from flying the airline, literally making up stories on national TV and being generally grumpy with management. In other words, being generally all-around ineffective for its members.

The irony, though, about Philadelphia pilot reps complaining about low pay offers is that they’re speaking from a legacy US Airways hub. They never managed to get to a new pilots deal at US Airways after its takeover by America West, preferring to go to war with their own members (US Airways versus America West pilots) over seniority issues that stood in the way of a contract and kept pilot wages down for years. It was only with the American Airlines merger that their wages began to rise.

This signals that any deal that the Allied Pilots Association negotiates with the company is far from a done deal being agreed to by the membership, since elements within their own leadership might fight it. A more competent Allied Pilots Association might use this as a stalking horse to negotiate up the airline – pointing out how difficult passage of a deal on the company’s current terms would be, needing ‘help’ to get it through with additional key concessions. However given the union’s structure, and inability to discipline its public messaging, that would be quite the feat for them.

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