Fri April 18, 2003
American Unions 'Outraged' Over Bonuses for Top Brass
Ft. Worth, TX – American Airlines union leaders say they're outraged the company didn't reveal a series of bankruptcy protections for management until after union members voted to cut their pay.
The plan includes bonuses and pension improvements to 45 top executives that would be paid regardless of whether American went bankrupt. American says the union leadership knew about the plan, but wasn't allowed to discuss it with rank-and-file members because of a confidentiality agreement.
Three American employees ratfied in the past week $1.8 billion in labor concessions after the company threatened to file for bankruptcy.
An airline spokesman says union leaders were briefed about the benefits, but under a confidentiality agreement. The union chiefs say they were given general information about executive compensation but not about the bonuses and pension funding.
John Ward, president of the flight attendants' union, says they're "appalled and just disgusted." Flight attendants initially rejected concessions but reversed themselves this week after voting was extended.
As American piled up record losses last year, its board approved funding a pension trust for 45 top executives. American says the supplemental benefits would have been protected in case the carrier went into bankruptcy.
Under the ratified contract changes, all 1,800 flight attendants based in St. Louis would lose their jobs; about 700 St. Louis-pilots would also be laid off.