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American Airlines’ flight attendants OK contract
DALLAS—Flight attendants at American Airlines voted to approve a new contract offer from the airline, which is seeking to cut costs in bankruptcy protection. The results released yesterday showed attendants voted to accept the contract by 59.5 per cent to 40.5 per cent, according to the Association of Professional Flight Attendants.
By voting for the airlines’ proposal, which includes numerous concessions, the flight attendants stave off the chance that American would impose even deeper cuts in bankruptcy court. The union’s leadership pushed hard in the final days for ratification. It warned that 2,000 flight attendants could be forced to take unpaid leave, or furloughs, if the offer had been rejected.
The vote “is an important step forward in our restructuring,” said Bruce Hicks, a spokesman for American Airlines, in a statement released after the results were announced. “We know this was not an easy decision for our flight attendants and we are very pleased with the choice they made.” The flight attendants now join mechanics and other union workers at the company who have already accepted new contracts. The airline’s pilots rejected the company’s last offer.
The flight attendants’ union said the “yes” vote should not be considered a vote of support for American Airlines’ executives. “It is important to remember who and what has caused this horrible situation: our current management team,” a statement from the APFA said. The union said that the best course for American is a merger with US Airways Group. US Airways has been pushing for a merger with AMR Corp, the parent company of American Airlines.
Earlier this year, unions for American Airlines’ flight attendants, pilots and ground crews agreed to provisional contracts with US Airways, in the event of a merger. After pilots rejected the American contract offer, AMR asked the bankruptcy judge to throw out the pilots’ current contract and impose deeper spending cuts. Under federal bankruptcy law, companies can void union contracts if they convince a judge that it’s necessary to turn the company around.
AMR said the new flight attendants’ contract will reduce spending by US$195 million a year. The union said 12,570 flight attendants, 93 per cent of those eligible to vote, participated. The bankruptcy court still needs to sign off on the flight attendants’ new contract before it goes into effect.
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