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August 09, 2012

Pilots union president resigns after members reject American contract

A few hours after American Airlines' pilots rejected a contract agreement with the bankrupt carrier, union president Capt. David Bates resigned.

In a letter sent to union members on Thursday, Bates said he was asked by the Allied Pilots Association board to resign and he agreed. His resignation is effective immediately.

American declined to comment on Bates' resignation.

Bates became APA president in July 2010 and adopted a less aggressive approach to contract negotiations with American than previous union officials.

However, the APA board remained split on the best course of action for the pilots union. It approved sending the latest offer from American out for ratification by a 9-7 board vote. On Wednesday, the pilots rejected the offer 61 percent against and 39 percent in favor.

Here's the letter sent by Capt. David Bates to the union members today.

My Fellow American Airlines Pilots

At the request of the APA Board of Directors, I agreed late yesterday to resign as your union president. My resignation is effective immediately.

I did not take this action lightly, but based my decision on the conviction that it would be best for our union and the pilots we represent. Although I believe that ratifying the tentative agreement would have been the best course for our pilot group, the majority of our pilots signaled their preference for taking a different path. Given these circumstances, I concluded that continuing to serve as your president was not in the interests of the pilots I have been charged with representing.

I will do everything possible to facilitate a smooth transition and am likewise committed to helping ensure our ultimate success. Whatever our differences, we have much more in common with one another as professional pilots for American Airlines.

In closing, I want to thank each of you for the opportunity to serve as APA President. It has been an honor and a privilege that I will always treasure.


Captain David Bates

-Andrea Ahles


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The APA is not interested in moderation or compromise. They will only stop once they get everything they demand.

They will then declare victory over the ruthless "management" and then be shocked the next day when they are all out of work because the industry can't sustain everything the APA demands.


The APA compromised over ten years of give backs to help American stay afloat. Management continued to award itself sky high salary's and bonuses. I don't blame them for rejecting it. It is time that the far right stopped running Texas and milking it dry in every way. The Republicans are just like the old story of the goose that laid the golden eggs and the idiots who decided to kill it and get all the golden eggs at once. Only in this case the golden goose is the American economy and whats left of our middle class. Stop outrageous salarys and bonuses to top executives and stop allowing companys to move American jobs over seas!


When the judge imposes the term sheet next week, the pilots will take a much bigger hit than the term sheet vs. TA comparison charts lead many to believe. Instead of a 4% pay raise, it will be zero. Instead of a 14% 401(k) contribution it will be zero. Health care insurance cost will also rise and profit sharing will drop from 5% of pre-tax income to no profit sharing at all. Pilots will no longer have a 13.5% equity stake in the airline when it exits bankruptcy.

Total immediate pay cut for every pilot come August 15th will be 11% due to loss of B-fund contribution. No voters just gave every pilot 18% less pay vs. what was in the TA. No right to strike, no equity in a restructured airline ($100,000 average per pilot), no profit sharing, and no claim on loss of pension.

The APA BOD is to blame for the debacle, for example, giving 777 co-pilots pay parity with Airbus Captains. The 7 no voters did a bang up job of misleading the pilots on how the bankruptcy process will play out.

casual observer

To be a fly on the wall...It's too bad because Captain Bates seemed a little more reasonable than past APA presidents, that is until he jumped on the Doug Parker/US Airways bandwagon. It will be interesting to see what brand of "realistic expectations" APA members choose to vote in next.


So the pilots gave back 10 years ago? Someone very smart once told me that when it comes to making business decisions, "It doesn't matter where you've been- only where you're going." I hope this works out for all parties because now is no time for brinksmanship. Good Luck.


So Captain Bates became the APA's sacrificial lamb? If history is any indication, no matter who is at the helm, if he or she is not combative enough, doesn't hate management enough, or doesn't offer up enough unrealistic expectations like Super Bowl Sunday as a holiday, they have no place leading the APA. Quite a strategy this union has!

John S

He made his bed and now he has to lie in it. Bates started out on a good foot, but then got very aggressive later in his term. He stirred up a lot of negativity, and it came around to bite him in the rear yesterday.


Don't worry, Bates, the APA just did you a favor. Now you can get out of here and go corporate. Would you reall wan to be the head of an organization that gives up pay raises and a 13.5% share in the company for pay cuts and term sheets.


Just another company boot licker gone by the wayside......We watch em come, We watch em go


The average age of First Officers is 52. Most Captains are at or near retirement age. Many of the pilots are already retired from the military. The pilots have had over a decade to prepare for this train wreck. If only 20% of the pilots decide quit, American will never make it out of bankruptcy court.


Bates was the front man for the pilot's TA, whether or not he wanted to be. He also represents years of failure. He couldn't get a deal for his members, and that was his main job.

I don't know much about the new guy but hope he is easier to work with. Bates basically became Lloyd Hill reincarnated.

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