FORT WORTH — AMR Corp.'s American Airlines pilots on Friday rejected a company contract proposal that would have increased pay as much as 22% immediately in exchange for the union giving up the right to strike.
Separately, the carrier said it tentatively agreed with the Transport Workers Union to three-year contracts covering 15,000 dispatchers, clerks and other union employees.
The proposed contracts, which would be retroactive to March 1, must be ratified by union members in a vote that will take place in about a month, AMR said.
The Allied Pilots Assn., which represents more than 11,000 American pilots, turned down AMR's four-year offer a week before a deadline set by the company. The plan would have provided immediate raises of 15% to 22% to match industry pay leader Delta Air Lines Inc. before settling other issues.
American made the proposal in an attempt to avoid drawn-out talks and a possible strike from pilots. The carrier estimates that new contracts, including an eventual pilots' accord, could raise American's labor costs $500 million this year and $700 million in 2002.
American maintained that its proposal could have resulted in a new contract in about a year.
"I am disappointed, obviously, that they didn't accept this, but this is just one [proposal], and we're going to keep on plugging forward," said Jeffrey Brundage, American vice president for employee policy and relations. "We're not going to let these contract negotiations drag out for years."
The Allied Pilots Assn. said its plan for talks would result "in a timelier resolution to the negotiations."
The AMR proposal stated that, if a tentative contract wasn't reached in 120 days starting Nov. 1, each side would present proposals on its five most important issues. A panel of arbitrators would select one proposal or the other on each issue, instead of crafting a plan from the two.
Also Friday, AMR said it offered as much as $10,000 to entice customer-service agents who might want to leave the company to do so now, rather than after the company combines its American Airlines and TWA work forces. AMR bought the former Trans World Airlines Inc. in April.
About 7,500 eligible reservation, gate and ticket-counter agents have 30 to 60 days to decide whether to take the one-time payment, Brundage said. The company didn't set a target for how many employees it would like to accept the offer.
AMR offered the program to U.S. agents with at least 12 years' employment so it can avoid the expense of training workers who might plan to leave the company shortly after American and TWA operations are combined, Brundage said. About 1,500 workers at TWA and 6,000 at American are eligible.
Those already eligible for retirement would receive medical and travel benefits under American Airlines' benefit plans. Under the offer, AMR would get to set the date to end employment.
AMR isn't making the offer to any other employees.
Customer-service agents at American are the only major employee group not represented by a union, the carrier said. At TWA, those workers are represented by the International Assn. of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.
The Fort Worth-based company said it's keeping its commitment to offer employment to all of TWA's unionized workers, though some might be laid off if they decline to take transfers, move to other jobs or switch to part-time work.