Labor Relations Today
Unions Respond to American Airlines and US Airways Merger
On Thursday, it was announced that American Airlines and US Airways had agreed to merge. Merger of the two airlines, if approved, would result in the world’s largest airline. Reaction from the various unions representing employees of the two airlines has been generally positive, although not entirely so.
For example, the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), issued a press release stating optimistically:
ALPA will be watching this merger carefully because we represent pilots who fly more than 75 percent of express flying within the US Airways and American networks. We will work to ensure that our members are not negatively impacted during the merger process or by any subsequent agreements. And, in fact, they should benefit, as other stakeholders, in such a consolidation.
Involving all employees, including those in the wholly-owned express subsidiaries, is essential to a smooth and effective integration process. We encourage all parties affected by this merger to collaborate in building a strong carrier that will continue to move this industry and our profession forward.
The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA), which represents flight attendants at US Airways, issued a press release demonstrating confidence that the merger was the right decision for the airlines and its represented flight attendants. It assured:
The merger between US Airways and American Airlines holds great opportunities for Flight Attendants. We will raise the bar for our profession and we look forward to working as key partners. . . .
As full partners in the world’s largest airline, we expect meaningful participation in its benefits. We look forward to working with our colleagues at American in improving wages, benefits, work rules and retirement security for ALL Flight Attendants at the new American.
Not all unions voiced words of optimism after the merger announcement. The International Association of Machinist and Aerospace Workers (IAM) took advantage of the opportunity to criticize US Airways for delays in bargaining and to express fears that the merger will only add to those delays. Its press release quoted IAM District 141 President Rich Delaney as saying:
IAM members at US Airways need and deserve contracts now . . . The Machinists Union will not allow US Airways to stall our members’ contract negotiations while it devotes its attention to merging with American Airlines. The IAM is prepared to support this merger only if it provides real value to employees.
Although the merger is still subject to approval by government regulators, labor issues are likely to be a hot ticket item as the two airlines move forward with their plans. Hopefully, the general optimism of the affected unions will prove true and all parties will benefit from the joinder of the two airlines.
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