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American Airlines pilots take hard line

October 10, 2007|From Bloomberg News

AMR Corp.'s American Airlines pilots set the tone for upcoming contract talks in a letter sent to Chief Executive Gerard Arpey by threatening to face off with the world's largest carrier "on the picket line."

Allied Pilots Assn. officers expressed frustration with the carrier's push to continue joint efforts to cut operating costs and boost productivity while ignoring the union's concerns. American didn't return a call seeking comment on the Sept. 18 letter made public Tuesday.

The airline, based in Fort Worth, is trying to contain labor costs as it negotiates contracts with its three largest unions.

Union employees gave up $1.6 billion in wage, job and benefit cuts in 2003 to save the carrier from bankruptcy.

Competitors including UAL Corp.'s United Airlines and Delta Air Lines Inc. later slashed their own labor costs while reorganizing under bankruptcy supervision.

"Enjoy your blood money and your union-busting meetings," the letter from the union's top officers said. "We'll see you in court, in the newspapers and on the picket line."

American last month rejected a union proposal for a 31% pay increase and a signing bonus. The plan was offered before Lloyd Hill was elected union president. The pilot union is creating a plan to be given to the carrier this month.

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