Association of Professional Flight Attendants President Laura Glading
ST: What is the status of negotiations between APFA and American?
Glading: We’ve been sort of in a break waiting to see what the resolution was with the TWU and their contract and of course, they had their announcement last week. Once that was resolved I think we focused our attention back on the flight attendants. We are meeting with the mediator for about four days in Florida on Sept. 20...We feel that we are at the end game. There really isn’t anywhere else to go in negotiations. We think it’s time for the company to come to the table or give us a release.
ST: Almost three-fourths of the flight attendants contract with American has been tentatively agreed to. What are the remaining issues?
Glading: They are all the money issues. Really it’s compensation in every form which is scheduling maximums, contributions to benefits and of course, the increase in the salary, structural wage increases. Structural wage increases is first although we had indicated to the company we would be willing to raise our health benefits contributions, but you can’t put $200 in one pocket and take twice out there with the other pocket. We want a raise we can actually realize at the end of the day. We want to be better off, not worse off, and everything they’ve put on the table, it has been concessionary.
ST: What do you think the failed TWU votes mean for the APFA?
Glading: I think it’s good for us. The message that was sent by the stores and the mechanics was that’s not enough. We want real money, real wages on the table and we’re not going to give any more concessions. The maintenance technicians that approved their contract, it’s a very small group. I applaud them and I’m glad they got their contract. But American has to take a hard look and put on the table what works for all of us...The company always compares us to what happened to other companies and we gave them everything in 2003. Now all of a sudden, they talk about what the other carriers did in bankruptcy and that they need to be competitive. In 2003, they said we would all share in the gains and now all of a sudden they are reneging on that promise. We held up our end of the deal.
ST: Are you concerned that if the economy does not improve that American may cut more capacity resulting in more flight attendant furloughs?
Glading: We have a little over 1,300 flight attendants furloughed. I’m not thinking there will be a double dip recession but the company always cries poverty. With regard to furloughs, our manning is pretty solid. We’re actually running short if anything. I’m not worried about any more furloughs and that’s hopefully a conversation that we’re not having this year. Instead, we trying to have a conversation to bring back some of these furloughed attendants. As far as another concessionary agreement, I’m not going to take a contract out that doesn’t improve the work lives and situation of the flight attendants.
ST: What is your opinion on American receiving anti-trust immunity for its partnership with British Airways and Iberia?
Glading: I think the benefits of that ATI agreement will be realized very shortly and the Japan Airlines anti trust will go through as well. I think it will be good for American and I think it will be good for the employees. I supported those alliances because American needs to think more globally. We got behind the game with the other carriers having alliances and I think this levels the playing field and I think this is going to be good for everybody. The plan is to increase flying and that will mean bringing people back for jobs, and all of the projections are that American will do very well with ATI.