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Eric Bergman – Letters to G. Arpey

Dear Mr. Arpey,
  
I have attached three letters which I sent to you just over a year ago.  Last year I finally received a reply from a low level employee in Human Resources telling me that the bonus program was fair and in place for a long time and I should understand that it is good for AMR.  I don't buy one word of that and stand by the sentiments expressed in my letters.  I am also disappointed that you didn't even see fit to have someone in your office address my concerns, and at least send a form letter with some kind of explanation of your personal stance on the issue.  After all you are our leader.
  
I will not reiterate my earlier sentiments; I stand by every word. I will update you on my current situation and my feelings about this year's outrageous bonuses. 
  
I have spent the last year working on my exit strategy from AMR, and I am now a Registered Nurse with six months experience at a small community hospital.  My work as a nurse has ironically taught me just how good my job as a flight attendant is, and how much I enjoy that work.  I want AMR and American to survive and I want to feel I can safely focus my energy at making American a great airline.  But I don't feel I can trust our leadership to protect me or the airline for long term success.
  
While we appear to be doing well on paper, it is clear to me that all is not well at AMR.  The pilots negotiations have not gone well.  They cost us the China route over a stupid issue, which had you had their cooperation and support (as you did prior to the idiotic bonuses of 2006) would have been a non-issue.  The only reason things are not worse is that my union and the TWU are not yet in negotiations with you.  Once that happens later this year, you will have a nightmare on your hands.  It will quickly become evident our cooperative efforts were short lived and fragile and have not survived.  Our stock price is already down nearly 25% from its high three months ago, and the worst news is not fully evident to the outside world.  When we enter negotiations I full expect it will be impossible to keep a lid on the discord and disappointment at American, service will suffer, investors will lose confidence and we will begin the long, slow decline back to 2003.
  
I hope I am wrong, because I truly love being a flight attendant for American Airlines, but I will plan for the worst.   I honestly believe it is not too late, if you would just stand up and lead.  Speak out against the bonuses, stop them and focus everyone's attention back on shared sacrifice and shared gain.  The bonuses make you look like a fool, except in the company of those who are benefiting from them.
  
Sincerely,
  
Eric Bergman
Flight Attendant, ORD

____________________________________

Gerard Arpey, CEO
AMR Corporation
PO BOX 619612, MD 2400
DFW AIRPORT, TX 75261-9612

Dear Mr. Arpey,

It has been more than two weeks since I last wrote to you.  I am sorry that you have neither responded to my letter, nor made any real attempt to correct the issue at hand.  You cannot possibly understand the seriousness with which I and the other 91,000 employees who are left out of the bonus plan take your inaction.  The problem with the corporate system in the United States today is that the leaders do not lead; they work hard to line their pockets on the backs of the rest of society.    
The only thing that was likely to allow American Airlines to survive was our collective action and combined struggle to be the industry leader.  I reiterate, from the perspective of the front line, this bonus issue has taken all the wind out of our sails.  I, and I’m sure thousands of others, now see that the example from the top of our organization demonstrates that the true path at AMR continues to be: get all you can and don’t worry about the collective good or the long term future of our company.  Frankly, I am disgusted and disappointed.  I aspire to be part of an organization that has higher moral and ethical values and a better future.  

As I mentioned in my letter of January 10, I had begun to think that I should not give up on American and had started to look for a way to reenergize my work.  However, your inaction convinces me that I should return my focus to activities away from my work as a flight attendant.  I will continue to use my position with American as a means to an end, and devote the bulk of my energy to activities with more ethical and rewarding organizations.  I hope you will wake up and put a stop to the bonuses, but I am not optimistic.  I also hope you will listen to me and to the others who I know are writing to you.  Perhaps there is still time to undo the damage the bonus program has done, but time is waning.  

Sincerely,
Eric W. Bergman
Flight Attendant, ORD

cc  Lauri Curtis,
Debbie Carvatta,
APFA Board of Directors and Executive Committee

____________________________________

Gerard Arpey, CEO
AMR Corporation
PO BOX 619612, MD 2400
DFW AIRPORT, TX 75261-9612

Dear Mr. Arpey,

It has only been nine days since I last wrote; nonetheless I am disappointed that I have not received a response.  In fact it appears that you have not acted in any way with regard to the bonus that will be paid to the 1,000 top managers in April. 
Today AMR reported earnings that were substantially worse then last year.  Of course, a predicable result of our dismal earnings report was that our stock price continued its recent plunge.  I note that since announcing the outrageous bonus plan our stock has lost more than 20% of it value.  Ironic, since the bonus seems to pretend to have some relationship to stock performance.

I would like to reiterate that from the perspective of the front line, this bonus issue has taken all the wind out of our sails.  I am prepared to suggest that it is time for us to go into bankruptcy and quit trying to pretend we are any different than other immoral unethical American corporations.  I have lost hope in your leadership and American’s ability to be anything more than a cash machine for a few lucky executives. 

I realize that I have given you little time in which to react, but as I see it, this was a crisis of such magnitude that it required immediate and decisive action. You did nothing tangible.  I believe you had an opportunity to choose between 1,000 senior executives and 91,000 or more workers.  I would expect that if these bonuses had been revoked (the only ethical path) many of the executives would have quit, and some might even have attempted to sue AMR.  However, the loss of these greedy few, pales by comparison to the silent loss you are now experiencing. 

I, and I’m sure thousands of others, now see that the example from the top of our organization demonstrates that the true path at AMR continues to be: get all you can and don’t worry about the collective good or the long term future of our company.  Frankly, I am disgusted and disappointed.  I aspire to be part of an organization that has higher moral and ethical values and a better future. 

As I mentioned in my letter of January 10, I had begun to think that I should not give up on American and had started to look for a way to reenergize my work.  However, your inaction leaves me pleased that I have not waited and banked on you or your leadership. I will return my focus to the exit plans I have been putting in place for the last two years.  While I hope that my feelings and plans will give you pause and concern for your leadership, I must admit that I hold out only enough hope for that, to invest only the thirty minutes it took to compose this letter.
Sincerely,   

Eric W. Bergman, Flight Attendant ORD
cc  Lauri Curtis,
Debbie Carvatta,
APFA Board of Directors and Executive Committee

____________________________________

Gerard Arpey, CEO
AMR Corporation
PO BOX 619612, MD 2400
DFW AIRPORT, TX 75261-9612

Dear Mr. Arpey,

I was angered and disappointed to learn this week of the bonuses that AMR management would be receiving.  You are about to lose every bit of progress we have made over the last three years, and your legacy is going to be ruined.  The support and collaboration you have received is based almost entirely on a willingness of AMR employees to allow you to prove that you will run a fair and equitable organization.

As our union leaders pointed out yesterday, the stellar rise in AMR’s stock price is most accurately attributable to the phenomenal support and cooperation you have received from them and their memberships to participate and collaborate with the senior management team.  While senior management played an important role in this work, it is completely inappropriate, unethical and amoral for them to receive such a lopsided and ridiculous monetary reward for a rise in the stock price that we are all responsible for.

I, like many American Airlines employees, am highly intrinsically motivated.  I am smart and resourceful and have the resources and skills to do many things.  American’s difficulties have led me to focus my energy on finding an exit strategy (i.e. more schooling and a new career) rather then finding ways to strengthen American and contribute to our collective success.  Recently I had begun to question my focus and try to find new ways to reenergize my work at American.  The revelation of this bonus program reaffirms my desire to get out and forge a future for myself away from American.

I represent a special kind of employee, and I am sure there are thousands like me with similar abilities who will make similar choices.  Together we represent the most powerful force the airline has to draw on for its future success. My individual departure from American will have relatively little impact on the organization, but once you lose the brightest and most motivated employees, future success will be much harder to achieve.

I urge you to act quickly and decisively to prove that your leadership of AMR is different and deserves our trust and collaboration.  You must put in place a transparent and equitable bonus structure that does not convey ridiculously large monetary grants to individuals for events that require widespread collaboration and effort.  The focus of my energy and hard work will depend on your response to this crisis, and I am sure that I am not alone.

Sincerely,

Eric W. Bergman, Flight Attendant ORD
cc  Lauri Curtis,
Debbie Carvatta,
APFA Board of Directors and Executive Committee

 

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APFA Headquarters
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Euless, Texas 76040

M-F: 9:00AM - 5:00PM (CT)
Phone: (817) 540-0108

Call APFA

Contract & Scheduling Desk
M-F: 7:00AM - 7:00PM (CT)
Phone: (817) 540-0108

Chat APFA

After-Hours Live Chat
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