It’s Time for American’s Pilots To Decide If They Want More Money or Not

American, Labor Relations

We all know how American’s flight attendant contract negotiations turned out. A slim majority of flight attendants actually decided they preferred a worse contract with less money. In the end, the company gave the full raise to the flight attendants anyway, but some of the contract improvements that had been negotiated were gone. Since then, the airline has given another 4 percent raise to all non-contract workgroups and those under a single contract… but not all workgroups are working under a single contract. The pilots are the next big group to go, and it’s decision time. If they’re smart, they won’t follow the flight attendants’ path.

American Pilot Contract

This situation is very similar to what we saw with the flight attendants but with a few important differences. The general goal is the same: hammer out the final details via negotiation instead of by going to binding arbitration. The flight attendants narrowly voted to gamble on arbitration and lost. Now the pilots get their turn to make a choice.

As with the flight attendants, the pilots were offered more money than they will get in arbitration. We know this because the economic value is firmly set already. The pilots received a 3 percent raise on January 1 of this year. Then on January 1, 2016, they move to the average of the Delta and United contracts. That translates into a 13 percent raise which is followed by 3.5 percent raises in both January 2017 and January 2018.

With that background, the proposal from the company is extremely attractive, to say the least. American would give a 23 percent increase right off the bat. The 3 percent increase from January 2015 would also remain in effect. Then there would be another 3 percent increase each year through 2019.

So, uh, yeah. Seems like a pretty clear option here, so why hasn’t this been accepted yet? That’s a really good question. As we all know from the flight attendant negotiation, there isn’t going to be a better outcome if this goes to arbitration, but politics always gets involved.

The union, Allied Pilots Association (APA), has been negotiating to improve some things in the contract. So far American has given what it says are concessions worth about $20 million a year, but APA wants more than that. So after going back and forth, on December 23, American decided to submit for arbitration since it was clear the two sides wouldn’t agree. With arbitration set for the end of February, American dumped everything back into the pilots’ laps.

Now here’s where things get a bit different. While the flight attendants had to let their membership vote on the agreement, that’s not the case with the pilots. The incredibly large APA board (20+ members) could have simply voted to accept the improved agreement and been done with it. But the membership probably wouldn’t have been happy. Politics.

When the company laid things out on December 23, it made timelines clear. The pilots could accept this deal any time before arbitration begins. But per an agreement with APA, if the APA board accepted the deal by January 3 and (if needed) the rank and file voted it in by January 19, then the pay would be retroactive to December 2, 2014.

Seems clear what should have happened right? These raises are huge, so having an extra couple months of pay seems worthwhile since there is no way things are going to improve. But of course, that didn’t happen.

The board set a time to meet to discuss the offer and the end result was a decision to send it to the membership to vote. Apparently there was one outstanding issue involving pay on long layovers that, had the company agreed to, would have caused the board to accept the deal right there. But it was going to add $50 to $80 million to the contract and the company said no. With that, the board finally opted to send it to membership to vote.

That’s fine, but the vote didn’t begin right away. Now that it’s on, it’s going to go through January 30 so there’s enough time for all the pilots to have their say. So the APA went back to the company to say that they needed an extra 11 days on the deadline to allow for retroactive pay. American didn’t like that plan and on Friday night, ripped into the APA in an email to pilots and said the deadline wouldn’t change.

I can understand that response if the APA were still dragging its feet, but the decision to send to membership and vote has already been made. It’s not like it’s going to slip any further. So, really American? You couldn’t just extend 11 days? You know if I think the company was being too harsh then the pilots must have flipped out. But something strange happened. It didn’t take long, but somebody clearly realized this was a bad idea. On Sunday, the company sent another letter out saying that the deadline would in fact be extended to January 30.

Whew, good thing. Now the letter didn’t actually say that until you got through a couple paragraphs of anger directed at the union. I can’t say I liked the tone, but ultimately this is all just part of negotiations. The important thing here is that someone in management realized over the weekend that not granting the 11 day extension was stupid.

So now what? Well the pilots get until January 30 to vote. If they vote yes (as they absolutely should), then raises will go into effect backdated to December 2 and everyone will be on a single contract. If they vote no, well they’ll have done more financial damage to themselves than even the flight attendants could have imagined. I’m guessing that considering what happened to the flight attendants in arbitration (they got nothing they wanted), the pilots aren’t going to vote wrong here. But we’ll know for sure at the end of the month.

[Original pilot photo via Shutterstock]

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54 comments on “It’s Time for American’s Pilots To Decide If They Want More Money or Not

  1. Cranky- Do you know if that 23% raise is based on legacy AA rates, legacy US rates, or a weighted average of the two?

    1. Mike – The merger brought US pilots and American pilots to the same level
      in the merger transition agreement. So it’s a 23 percent raise on top of
      that for all parties.

  2. Its not just about a raise, the company had refused to negotiate with the pilots…they just publish a list of demands for givebacks and that is that.

    Please don’t publish lies.

    1. Ron – This is very simple. Your union agreed to the merger transition
      agreement which specifically says how things go forward. The company
      doesn’t have to give you anything further. If you vote no, this goes to
      arbitration and you won’t get work rule improvements that you want. You’ll
      just get less money. I think the only thing that you might get is that the
      combination of domestic and international wouldn’t occur, but that
      shouldn’t really be a work rule issue.

      1. Cranky,

        How much compensation have you ever received in the form of payment, perks, travel, or per diem, allowance from American Airlines and/or US Airways? What is your incentive to write a less then well rounded article omitting the details of American Airlines management asks of pilots.

        You have overlooked any mention that the pilots are being asked to waive their health care plan guarantee! Do you not think it notable that pilots are currently immune to the Affordable Care Act provisions? Management proposes mechanisms in this agreement that will put pilots under the (un)Affordable Care Act going forward if this agreement is ratified.

        Yes, management does not have to negotiate with APA at this time, but then again they’re not negotiating. The company’s rejection of core APA concerns seek to establish management position as the sole “grantor” of benefits unmoved by annoying union “demands.” Unlike Delta and United, American management refuses to compensate for operationally required 30-hour hotel layovers. Big pay rates mean little if you are on the road, but not on the clock. The pay raise is rather distorted for a321 type aircraft, which should be grouped into a higher paying Group 3 category.

        You do a great job writing, but sometimes you may omit inconvenient truths for those who provide you with incentive to market their ideas.

        1. Bick – Welcome to the site. Clearly you’re new here because otherwise
          you’d know that anything that has been offered to me is clearly listed at
 I have never received anything from these airlines
          except for very occasional travel either to a company event or to try a new
          product. It’s all there, have at it. You should also know that these
          things mean nothing to me when it comes to how I write. But none of this

          You seem to be arguing with me about AA’s unwillingness to negotiate.
          Whether I think that’s a good idea or not is entirely irrelevant, because
          it is what it is. The point of this post is that you have something on the
          table to vote on. If you take it, you get more money. If you don’t, you
          get less. Yes, there are a few other issues that have been negotiated in
          that would change if this isn’t accepted, but all your other complaints
          simply aren’t going to be addressed.

          Do I think it’s a big issue that you wouldn’t get minimum pay while on
          layovers unlike Delta and United? Sure. I know a lot of people who are
          angry about that as well. But it’s not going to change, so discussing
          whether it’s the right thing to do or not doesn’t matter.

          1. =====
            Thanks Cranky, Its great to be back.

            I previously commented on your piece “Fixing the Pilot Shortage Without Increasing Pay:”

            You were not available for comment then so I appreciate the courtesy of your reply this time. I reviewed your ethics section in June, 2014 when you wrote on the [artificial] “pilot shortage.” At the time, I believed there may be ideas and facts you reserve given your manner of compensation. Your readership may be mostly labor in one form or another, but you no doubt receive gifts and monies from airlines, their representation, partners, and other slanted media outlets. Your relationships are a real testament to your abilities, authorship, and airline industry dedication! However, stated ethics and admittance of compensated relationships rooted in an airline’s interests do not make writings ethical if said writings are omissions of fact.

            For example, your ethics section discloses your compensation by Publisher Holly Hegeman of PlaneBusiness Banter. PlaneBusiness Banter recently wrote a slanted piece regarding “machinations surrounding the JCBA process between American Airlines and its pilots.” This article reflects restrictions that I understand may be inherent in your ability to share more balanced perceptions on items such as this AAL JCBA. For me it is disappointing to have this perception of you as I have otherwise enjoyed your creative writings and photoshop wonders.

            There is nothing to argue about the facts of how AAL chooses to negotiate. I do not seek to retool history with you. We agree that the pilots of AAL have something to vote on, but my issue here is your indirect marketing of a yes vote without representing all facts. Why not present all pros and cons to your readers?

            I still wonder how you wrote this piece without reference of how this JCBA will nullify contractual guarantees of health care provisions. If this TA is ratified than AAL pilots will be subjected to the Affordable Care Act going forward. By omitting obvious and relevant information you may implicitly misinform your readership of large changes in this JCBA process.

            Regarding your statement, “ Do I think it’s a big issue that you wouldn’t get minimum pay while on layovers[,] unlike Delta and United? Sure. I know a lot of people who are angry about that as well. But it’s not going to change.” Firstly, no one should be angry about anything in JCBA. This is a business process so the people you know to be angry may be helped by your presentation of more facts. As an example, when you say “You’ll just get less money.” The word “less” is quantitatively void and qualitatively lacking. Consider avoiding use of the word without further correlation.

            Finally, the pilots of AAL voted down LBFO 1 in bankruptcy and achieved marked success with LBFO2. You said in August 2012 regarding this first ever industry changing accomplishment: “I couldn’t believe that the judge in American’s bankruptcy case wouldn’t actually let the airline reject its pilot contract. But this isn’t some massive victory for pilots – really it’s just a small one.”

            The relationship of corporate interests and media outlets relative to incentives are curious. So can AAL pilots expect you to dismiss the value of any no vote in this JCBA as a “small victory?” —It acually seems that you already have.

            1. Bick, im not completely up to on the specifics of the ACA side letter im this proposal, but my understanding is that it relates to dealing with issues I’d the APA’s health plan becomes a luxury
              plan under the ACA and how those extra taxes would be handled. Totally agree that there are aspects of that that could be concessionary. But its a mischaracterization to say that the contract brings the APA into the ACA as the requirements and tax provisions
              of the ACA cannot be negotiated away in a union contract, but the union contract can cause the extra taxation on high end health plans to apply.

            2. Bick, read your response. I’m not an interested party and I just want to say I think Cranky was spot-on. Nothing you’ve said contradicts him. Even your own analysis doesn’t contradict or put forth additional newsworthy information.

              The critical piece — the things you complain are wrong about the contract would not be addressed in binding arbitration. If you’re claiming that binding arbitration would get you the things the pilots feel are missing and there is evidence to that effect, then you might have a point about Cranky’s analysis being lacking.

              However, it looks like, from my read, that binding arbitration wouldn’t get the pilots those things. So Cranky’s analysis and slight advocacy is spot-on, the pilot’s have the choice between this smaller victory with raise or losing it all. (I would agree that mentioning pilots biggest complaints about the contract would be interesting but not substantially change the story).

            3. Bick – I wasn’t going to respond to this, but I think it’s important to
              make sure that pilots who come to this site understand the reality of
              what’s going on. So, I’ve changed my mind.

              At the time, I believed there may be ideas and facts you reserve given your
              > manner of compensation.

              Your attempts to discredit me through false ad hominem attacks are rather
              silly, but I’ll play along here. Even with my ad revenue, I get very
              little compensation from the blog at all (most of my income comes from the
              concierge business). But you clearly seem to enjoy trying to discredit my
              views because you think American is paying me in one form or another.
              Let’s pretend that’s true. Why would I want you to vote yes on this? A
              yes vote means American’s costs go up a fair bit. If I were an investor or
              in any way concerned about financial performance, then a no vote would be
              far preferable. That’s what saves the company money. But again, that’s
              not the point here. I don’t stand to gain or lose personally regardless of
              what happens.

              We agree that the pilots of AAL have something to vote on, but my issue
              > here is your indirect marketing of a yes vote without representing all
              > facts. Why not present all pros and cons to your readers?

              This is an opinion blog, and it always has been. This isn’t a newspaper.
              I sincerely hope that pilots aren’t coming here as the sole source to learn
              about their contract options. If pilots are reading this, then they’re
              curious about my opinion on the contract. And I gave it. I have never
              pretended to be delivering balanced content. If pilots want a full
              description of what’s in the contract, they can listen to both APA and
              management and then they’ll find everything they need somewhere in between.

              You act like there’s some hidden agenda here, but there’s not. Having read
              more of your comment, I can understand how you might be turned around on
              some of this. There are a lot of rumors and inaccuracies out there,
              including this one…

              > I still wonder how you wrote this piece without reference of how this JCBA
              > will nullify contractual guarantees of health care provisions. If this TA
              > is ratified than AAL pilots will be subjected to the Affordable Care Act
              > going forward. By omitting obvious and relevant information you may
              > implicitly misinform your readership of large changes in this JCBA process.

              Frankly I’m not even sure what you’re talking about in terms of being
              “subjected to the Affordable Care Act.” That is the law of the land, so
              everyone is subjected to it. What I assume you’re talking about is the tax
              on “cadillac” health plans and how that might impact you. This is actually
              a really fascinating minor piece of the deal. You’re likely to be in
              better shape if you vote yes on this than if you vote no. In fact, it’s
              interesting enough that I’m thinking about a full post on the blog just
              about this. My first ever post on healthcare, but one that is pretty

              I’m going to leave it at that. You seem more interested in trying to twist
              words to make it look like I have some vested interest in screwing the
              pilots (I most certainly do not) rather than a constructive conversation.
              I’m happy to respond to inaccuracies because I know others are reading the
              comments here. I want them to know the truth. But I’ll leave it at that.

            4. Jeff,

              You are correct. APA’s healthcare plans will fall under the ACA regardless of arbitration or ratification, however what will change is who absorbs these costs. AAL management is mandated to hold a constant qualify of health care coverage.

              However, AAL will have to bear this additional tax burden. To clarify, this TA will offload any ACA exposure to APA pilots. The exposure presented by arbitrating health care coverage going forward will likely be compounded by health care inflation going forward.


              You are correct in that I’ve not contradicted Crank. I am however asking for a complete picture and outlining why we may not seeing more fleshed out detail in this article. Cranky’s assessment may reflect the AAL management position, which would be troublesome for many. Notable segments of AAL pilots would rather hold out for a 1/1/16 pay parity review over a shorter duration to preserve negotiating capital. There is very little that needs to arbitration as the existing Merger Transition agreement already preserves leverage for later opportunities. APA Board of Directors stated that they do not intend to arbitrate any portion of the MTA.

              Delta has stated its intent to have a TA by June of 2015. Many APA pilots take this as just enough sweetener to wait for true section 6 negotiations.

              The AAL management to union relationship seems rather broken. This is troublesome for all stake holders.

  3. I think those in the flight attendants and pilots union are rather delusional about what it is like for most workers in other fields and industries, including those that travel on their planes and sustain the business. Guaranteed pay rises are not a fixture of employment, let alone in the 3% range, in corporate america the last few years I would venture the average raise in an established industry has been around 1-1.5%, with ever more benefit costs borne by the employee. On top of that there are no work rules and no protections for employment, just at-will. A little bit of perspective and humility from these workers would be nice, and less antagonism between the workers and employers rather a more cooperative relationship that benefits them and their customers.

    1. I’m the son of middle-upper management, and I’ve been management myself.

      The pilots and all airline employees have taken some big cuts in pay over the past 14 years. Some accelerated and larger wage increases at this time are perfectly justified to begin to unravel the pay cuts of the past decade and a half.

      1. I’ll grant you that all airline employees did go through some rough years BUT they are not alone in the category of pay cuts. I’ve been subject to pay cuts and I do not work in any aviation related industry.

        The heyday when a widebody pilot could fly across the pond a few times a month and take home $300k annually needed to end. Seasoned veteran captains still take home what is considered a salary of the wealthy. Starting pay on mainline metal is quite average for other white collar professional careers.

        Sure, regionals don’t pay enough, and that’s another topic for discussion. American’s pilots probably do deserve a raise to get them to industry parity. I’m not against that, but arguing that those who fly our planes are underpaid compared to other fields is absurdity.

          1. Yeah but pilots and flight attendants are only paid when the doors of the plane are closed.

            So that 80 hour clock only includes those times. None of the other activities required activities are “paid” for by the airline. Including checking the exterior of the plane for safety, checking the weather or flight plan, or any of a number of other activities that are required.

          2. You do realize of course that teachers work outside of the time they are at school? I’ve never understood this logic of people complaining about the cushiness of another person’s job. If it is so cushy, why don’t you do it? Is it because it requires advanced degrees, or technical knowledge? Is it because you don’t have the right skill-set to perform it? People should stop sniping at their fellow workers and reserve their ire for the people who inevitably ARE responsible for their situation; management.

          3. Funny…I could have sworn my pay statement from December says I spent 330 hours away from home on behalf on AA, including Christmas.

        1. Amen. The sooner that pilots (and flight attendants) can put the never-never land of the 1990s behind them and accept that the world has changed, the better off they’ll be.

          I realize many of the pilots spent years working toward the promised land of doing two LHR trips a month and spending the rest of the month playing golf or running a second business from home. Not feasible anymore. Take the pay raise being offered and work with your union to hammer out better terms on the next go-round. There’s no such thing as a free lunch in the airline world anymore – for passengers or employees.

    2. TopGunner,
      We would love to have our job resemble the real world. We could quit and just go to Delta, then continue to make lateral moves our whole career.

      However, the Railway Labor act of 1926 essentially marries us to 1 airline. We get standard annual raises because we work under 5 year contracts, while in most “normal” jobs you could approach your employer every year and discuss your compensation.

      We would actually appreciate a little respect and humility from those who would wish to lecture us…you know, the first to die on 9/11 and the ones who come to AA after fighting America’s wars.

      1. “We would actually appreciate a little respect and humility from those who would wish to lecture us…you know, the first to die on 9/11 and the ones who come to AA after fighting America’s wars.”

        Wow. I can’t believe you used 9/11 as an argument in a discussion over what is essentially a pay dispute. That’s crass.

        I didn’t realize being the “first to die” made you some sort of hero compared to all the other victims. More managers than pilots died on 9/11. I guess that means we should take management’s side in this because, you know, ‘MURICA.

  4. Cranky, you’re usually spot on. However, on this one you should check out some of the stuff coming from the union too.

    This “negotiation” is about far more than pay. In effect, the company is interested in paying for the pay raises with concessions in quality of life. American Airlines pilots currently lag our peers at DAL and UAL in both quality of life (for instance, minimum calendar day pay vs minimum duty period pay) and actual pay. This proposal would make our already lagging quality of life worse, but pay pilots a rate commensurate with their peers. Giving up quality of life items would not only mean more time away from their families and fewer pilots on the property, it would mean pilots lose valuable leverage when they enter Section 6 negotiations when the contract is amendable. American Airlines management is throwing money at the problem for a reason: they need the concessions. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to give the company what they need, but it would be crazy for pilots to do it for no quality of life improvements and offset any QOL reductions – QOL changes that would merely be in line with their peers at the other legacies. Furthermore, this proposal would extend the amendable date of the pilot contract by one year, watering down any gains significantly.

    Management is holding a gun to pilots’ heads, and it appears management’s good faith bargaining ended before it even began, unfortunately. There is still a chance to create a new culture and positive relationship with the employees, but American Airlines management seems to be squandering the chance for that good relationship with every proposal and every public statement. I want to see the new American go for great, and I hope management’s actions – not just their words – will allow the airline to BE great.

    1. RedBaron – I’ve had lengthy discussions with the union on this. APA wants
      more in the negotiation but the company isn’t giving it. Thanks to the
      merger transition agreement, they don’t have to give it. The negotiation
      is done at this point. Either the contract on the table is accepted or it
      goes to arbitration and none of the changes you want will come out of
      that. Management isn’t holding a gun to the union’s head. This is what
      was agreed to during the merger. Any other changes you want or going to
      have to wait until a future negotiation.

  5. Why on earth should you be focusing on only the money. Do you believe only money matters when quality of life for pilots & their families will be even more negatively affected by this concessionary contract? Of course the pilots should turn this bait & switch down when the money won’t begin to compensate for the other gives the company wants.

    tPilots and their families have been abused for years by greedy, incompetent and lying management who have eroded protections to quality of life issues, including scheduling, days off, medical benefits, vacation, long-term disability, and more. It is disgusting that workers posting here have been so bamboozled by anti-union propaganda that they turn against the very people who are trying to hold the line against vicious executives who care nothing for their workers and seek only to increase their compensation. Why no criticism of those CEOs? WAKE UP & SUPPORT THE PILOTS!

    1. I’ve seen this QoL argument a few times but never any specifics. Given the nature of the negotiation the question is what are the QoL aspects in this contract versus the current AA MOU contract, not its peers at OALs. I dont know the answer to that since I dont know the specifics of either contract. If the QoL is a regression from the MOU then there are valid reasons for considering a no vote. If they are just inferior to the OAL contracts then pilots need to shut up and vote yes because those aren’t gains available in arbitration without losing something else due to the cost neutral requirement.

    2. So you would vote against this agreement and go for arbitration where you will get the same work rules AND less money? How does that make sense? Sounds like the quality of life issue is going to be there no matter which way the vote goes, so a rational person would at least choose to get more monetary compensation…

    3. Cara – I focus only on money because that’s the only significant change
      that’s going to occur if you vote yes or no. This isn’t a regular
      negotiation. Just look at what happened with the flight attendants.

      1. CF-
        Flight Attendants do not have the ability to impact the operation that pilots do. Pilots need to STOP doing anything but their jobs & STOP doing anything to assist the company. That is leverage FAs cannot command. As they say at the AFA, “if the minimum weren’t good enough, it wouldn’t be the minimum.” Ask Kirby.

        It’s WAY past time to give the absolute minimum to an airline management that has lied to, manipulated, and treated their most important work group with contempt. Time for them to buy the goodwill of the pilots with better work rules and more money. They can do that any time they want, regardless of the stage of the negotiation or arbitration, but only if pilots stand up for themselves & their profession and exert the leverage they’ve always had. Too many pilots have become victims of “learned helplessness.”

        1. I hate to say it, but it seems like there’s no shortage of folks who would like to rise up in the ranks and take the jobs of the pilots who seemingly don’t want to take the huge pay raise they’re being offered.

          I’ve been in my profession for 25 years and have won international awards for my work products. In 2007/8, I took a 15% pay cut, but lucky me, at least I had work. Fast forward to the past few years when I’ve gotten a 1% raise and a 15% (every year) increase in insurance premiums and also a tripling of my medical deductible. I would take the raise the pilots are being offered and would be THRILLED.

          QOL is great, and it’s important for professionals to command respect, but (a) there are people waiting to replace these pilots should they quit or get fired en masse, and (b) QOL with a job you mostly or really like is much higher for most folks than QOL without a job.

          The choices now for the pilots are:
          1. Accept what’s being offered, even though they don’t like the QOL provisions, and get the big pay increases.
          2. Don’t accept what’s being offered, go to binding arbitration, and get little or no pay increases compared to what’s offered in the contract, and have the same QOL provisions or worse.
          3. Quit their jobs.

          Labor unions had their place when the movement was started but if this is how educated union members are in how to advance their compensation, maybe unions have outlived their usefulness.

          1. I hate to say it, but it seems like there’s no shortage of folks who would like to rise up in the ranks and take the jobs of the pilots who seemingly don’t want to take the huge pay raise they’re being offered.

            Oh really? Is this why there is a pilot shortage, mostly brought on by the exceedingly low pay during the beginning of their careers and the crap shoot of ? Did you get paid 20K when you started in your career path? If as you said, there is a huge reserve supply of pilots, why aren’t airlines just able to get around their unions and break them outside of arbitration and bankruptcy hearings?

            As I said in another comment, there is nothing worse than workers who snipe at other workers as opposed to you know, the people who raised your deductible and lowered your wages, management. I’ve never seen a comments thread full of more people who are flacks for management.

            1. THANK YOU, Sean. As I also wrote, it’s disgraceful that workers are collaborating with management against the workers’ own best interests, to disparage and deride other work groups. It smacks of jealousy and ignorance and is ultimately destructive to the entire work force. The idea that pilots, who are trained longer than doctors, and who are responsible for hundreds of lives and millions of dollars worth of equipment, are no more than glorified bus drivers is propaganda that management has worked long and hard promulgating.

              Why is no one in this discussion having a problem with Scott Kirby being paid 4.6 MILLION dollars.? How many hours do you suppose he works for that? Why aren’t you screaming for cutting that preposterous compensation instead of sniping at other workers. WAKE UP!

          2. Julia,
            The shareholders, not to mention the Board of Directors, of American Airlines Group may not be amenable to an “en masse” firing of its nearly 15,000 pilots, with the resultant grounding of 983 aircraft. The loss of equity would be devastating. Although that strategy might have a collateral effect of ameliorating some of the problems of our overburdened ATC system!

          3. Julia, You don’t hate to say it. You love it. If you want to do management’s job of cutting staff wages in your spare time for free, rather than concentrating on your own job, maybe that’s why your own compensation was cut. If you are being paid to campaign for cutting airline staff wages, maybe you should declare that interest.

        2. “pilots, who are trained longer than doctors”

          I somehow doubt that. It took me 13 years to become a doctor. That’s about average and doesn’t include fellowships or other extra training. It also cost $200,000, even up here in the People’s Republic of Canada where education is subsidized by the government.

          You’ll forgive me if I have trouble seeing pilots as ordinary working-class stiffs suffering down in the trenches with the common man. I think they’re more likely to carry a golf club than a hammer and sickle.

  6. Hey cranky it would be interesting for you if you have the time when this all settles down to compare the big airlines pilot contracts and discuss the advantages and dis advantages they offer. On a side note quality of life is a big deal for a lot of pilots and is hard to quantify in money terms.

    1. Olamide – That would be an interesting yet likely impossible task for me to
      put together. There are just so many intricacies in these things that you
      need someone with a PHD to do it. Though I’m sure there are high level
      comparisons available that don’t get into the details.

      As for quality of life, I completely understand. That’s hugely important
      and it’s not just about money. But quality of life issues aren’t on the
      table here. So, to quote Steve Miller Band, go on, take the money and run.

      1. Hrm.. Perhaps a guest post? Although I doubt that anyone would be willing to put that much effort into it.

        Maybe a post from a union rep followed by a post from an airline association rep?

  7. Brett,

    What it really comes down to is, does it make sense for us to give the company their “7 asks” for the pay we will recieve.

    It may or may not, we need to read through all the documents the APA sent us tonignt. I know to you guys on the outside its a challenge to understand this contract stuff not living this day in and day out.

    This is a business decision. It’s about the money to some degree (more so for the older pilots who need to make up for
    lost wages). QOL will not improve through arbitration. So it’s more about what we have LEFT. If some of the companies asks reduce our QOL further is it really worth the extra pay. They want to combine international and domestic ops, they want to remove home base time, there is a side letter that deals with medical excise tax and a few more things. We need to look at all this and decide if the pay raise is worth trading these things away and make sure we’re getting fair market value.

    This proposal also extends the contract a year. So we need to look at the ramifications of that. Either way our work rules lag delta and united until our next section 6. So does it make sense to take a hit in pay to get there sooner?

    If delta get a new contract by Jan 2016 that will also pull our pay rates up (if it’s a no vote we get pay parity in Jan).

    Anyways, long story short we have a lot to consider. Your articles are great and I enjoy reading them. With all do respect I don’t believe you are in any position to be handing out advice on this one. We all live this every day and most of us are torn on what the right thing to do is, but we’ll get there.

    1. NewAAPilot – Yep, it’s definitely in your best interest to evaluate
      everything and make a decision. But I would love to see a response from
      you after you read through the details, if you have the time. I can’t see
      a situation where it would make sense to vote it down. I don’t have to
      live with it, of course, but I’ve spoken with plenty of people who do.

      1. I’ll get back to you after I attend a union road show next week. The documents I read through today shed a lot of light on some questions I’ve had. Some things don’t sound as bad now that I’ve had a chance to read the final contract language. Talk to you soon!

  8. Cranky,

    What is misleading from your post is the claim that this is as 23% or nothing raise. This offer is in lieu of the 18% raise the pilots get in 11 months if this goes to arbitration. A more fair characterization is 23% now with (potentially) undervalued concessions, or 18% on Jan 1, 2016 under the current agreement with no concessions. It’s not the “no brainer” that management has sold to other employee groups doing their union busting. You miss the fact that accepting this deal means that AA remains the lowest compensated pilot group among legacy airlines for at least 5 years vs. 3 years (when contract talks can open under the current agreement). In the mean time, AA is losing new pilots to Delta. Just something to chew on, respectfully.

    1. Pseudonym – Not misleading at all. I clearly state in there that the
      current calculation says you’ll get 13% next January (not 18%, as I
      understand it) and then 3.5% each of the two following years. So that’s
      just over a year where you’ll get paid 23% more than you will in
      arbitration. Then the difference is less in future years but it’s still a
      sizeable increase.

      1. Cranky,

        The mistake you’re making is in using Kirby’s Dec 2014 propaganda letter as the “source” for your numbers.

        The copy of APA’s valuation of the MOU I have from 2013 shows the 2016 pay increase to be estimated as 2015 rates + 16.5% (averaged across all fleets/seats), and in a new calculation this week only showing Captains, 14.32% averaged for all CA seats. The first time a 13% valuation appeared ever, from either AAL or APA, was in Kirby’s 12/23/14 letter to the pilots, which has many questioning if the company is playing fuzzy math to sell the offer. He also likes to round numbers off…our $1.7 Billion additional offer became “Nearly $2 billion,” which makes me wonder if he found the pilot seat with the lowest increase and rounded down to 13%.

        Many estimates predicting a Delta pay increase of 10% to be completed in the summer to shift the calculation upward to at least 18% conservatively (Some are predicting 21% on more optimistic estimates), assuming Delta stays on the timeline reported by their management–and therein lies the risk the pilots are considering (relying on Delta to meet their accelerated contract timeline).

        Don’t get me wrong, I think you’re making an honest effort to asses the situation, but at the very least, the cartoon is a misleading jab at the intelligence of our highly educated group. The pilot group is just deciding when and where its leverage runs out and if the risk/reward of a no vote is too much to swallow. We all know the current MTA will always lag behind the new offer…but QOL items are usually harder to recover in future negotiations than the money.

        Thank you for your time.

        1. Pseudonym – My guess is the actual number probably lies somewhere in
          between if there are a bunch of different valuations being made. But I
          know I wouldn’t be comfortable hoping that a competitor could come to an
          agreement with its pilots so that I could make more. Delta is going to
          have its hands very full now with its flight attendants in the middle of a
          union drive. That doesn’t mean there won’t be a pilot deal as is the
          stated goal, but a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

  9. There’s one major difference between the APFA arbitration and the APA’s that is often overlooked by people on the outside, including in this article. The company truly had nothing to lose in the APFA arbitration, as they were not asking the APFA for any concessions – just offering extra money. In the case of the APA, however, the company is seeking changes in work rules, staffing, and medical benefits that they are not able to obtain in arbitration. While the flight attendants came out of arbitration with no gains at all compared to the contract they voted down, just less cash, pilots would come out with less cash offset by the preservation of what few industry leading provisions we have left in our contract. We would then be left with the option of keeping those provisions in tact, or continuing to talk to the company about making the changes the want, at the value we feel we deserve.

    Unlike the flight attendants who voted no, the pilots, by and large, are not under any delusion about what we will get in arbitration. It will be significantly less money, but with our contract in tact. While a reasonable person could choose the money, it’s also completely reasonable to choose to preserve our contract.

    1. Another AA Pilot – So what are the industry-leading provisions that you’re
      worried about losing? Most of what I’ve seen looks pretty minor compared
      to the gains that can be had.

  10. They would be fools not to take it…but, look at the fools that wasted so much time and money forming USAPA so they could cheat their way out of a mutually agreed upon binding arbitration. Take what they are offering now, if you don’t, then it will be your fault what you get. Start working in the real world.

    1. USAPA pilots make up what percentage of AA’s pilots? Definitely less than 50%

      Sent from my computer that moonlights as a phone. Please forgive any misspellings or terseness.


  11. I am still amazed at how badly the unions got played by Parker et al. The AA labor hated management so much, they wanted to lash out and make them pay. So when Parker came in and said, sign with us and we will run their asses off, AA labor fell all over themselves signing….but didn’t read the fine print.

    And Horton of course is laughing all the way to the bank, he of his $20 million parachute. Plus no doubt he got lots of stock at $5…now $50.

    Y’all got played. Salute Parker, take the contract and the raise, and move on.

  12. Seems like my first prediction for 2015 is coming true: The newly merged AA will find labor peace elusive, as pilot groups continue to bicker

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Cranky Flier