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October 22, 2012

APA and American continue talks over the weekend

Progress is being made in contract talks between American Airlines and its pilots, according to the union.

In a message sent to members on Sunday, the Allied Pilots Association called it a "frustrating process" but added that management has made "encouraging changes" to their positions at the bargaining table.

"Our realistic assessment is that neither side is “kicking the can,” and we are both struggling through an enormously frustrating process," the message said. "We continue to make progress in contract-language writing — there are many difficult issues to work through in the days ahead, but each of the past several days has proven productive at the table."

The two sides appear to be meeting every day including on the weekends to try to hammer out a new contract. The pilots are the only unionized workforce at American that does not have a new contract in place while the company is restructuring in bankruptcy.

Keep reading for the full APA message.

-Andrea Ahles

Progress at the Table

Since negotiations resumed, we have met with management every day, including through the weekends. Management is clearly motivated to negotiate, but that doesn’t mean the process is easy or necessarily coming together quickly. Management is willing to meet 24/7 to reach an agreement; however, because of lessons learned from the past, APA is being methodical in how we go about this. We are not working around the clock, and we are making sure members of our team get sufficient rest and an occasional day off to refresh. Our realistic assessment is that neither side is “kicking the can,” and we are both struggling through an enormously frustrating process.
In recent days, management has made a number of encouraging changes to their positions that move us closer to our stated goal of an industry-standard contract we can be proud of. Some of the moves management has made in recent days include:

- Moving the 737-700 and the A319 into the same pay group as the S80 and 737-800
- Improvements to the disability plan
- Agreement to replenish a pilot’s sick bank after an injury on duty
- Agreement that medical verification would only be required for access to a pilot’s long-term sick bank
- Removal of hotel language that gives preference to airport hotels
- A “home base” concept that could allow some commuters to start their sequences from airports other than the cornerstone pilot bases
- A moratorium on closing the STL pilot base until an arbitration process has been completed
- A moratorium on closing any other pilot bases for at least a year
- Agreeing to remove language in the bankruptcy settlement agreement restricting APA’s right to protest management compensation
Decreasing the number of pay bands is a very helpful move as we transition to talks on creating a methodology for the mid-contract adjustment, which sets us up to keep up with our pilot peers at Delta and United. We continue to make progress in contract-language writing — there are many difficult issues to work through in the days ahead, but each of the past several days has proven productive at the table. Our counterparts at United have been locked up in contract-language writing for some time now, so the challenge is not unique to our situation. Our goal is for any agreement presented to you to be in full contract language.
Finally, our advisers have been in talks with parties expressing interest in purchasing the APA claim. One possible outcome is a backstop offer in which APA would have the option to sell the claim sometime between contract approval by the judge and the plan of restructuring approval date. Our advisers are hopeful that such an offer could equate to an average six-figure pay-out per pilot.
Talks will continue every day for the foreseeable future. We will update you as events warrant.
Your APA Negotiating Committee

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