By Terry Maxon/Reporter
On Friday morning, Association of Professional Flight Attendants vice president Marcus Gluth addressed the several hundred pilots, flight attendants and other American Airlines workers who participated in a walk to deliver no-confidence petitions to American’s headquarters.
Here are Gluth’s comments, edited somewhat for length:
"We may have lost confidence in our management, but we’ll never lose confidence in each other.
"When I started in 1988, American Airlines was growing and competing. Our brand was worthy of the name emblazoned on the fuselage. But we all know that there wasn’t a genius in the corner that allowed for the company’s success. It was the employees. Even back then, American was building this company on the backs of its workers. B-scale was only the beginning of what would become over two decades of complete distrust of management. …
"But the evolution of our profession coincided with the devolution of this company. We’ve always seen it.
"Horton can make up whatever numbers he wants about labor costs. But the fact of the matter is, incompetent management has been hamstringing this company for decades. The missed opportunities and outright disastrous business decisions are too numerous to count. Now, they want us to pay the price for them.
"Forget that. We’ve been apologizing for management’s ineptitude for too long. Now is the time for change. It’s time to get rid of the dead weight.
"I’m not talking about 14,000 employees. I’m talking about 20 or so employees. I’m talking about the only people on the planet that are delusional enough to think that this airline can be successful on its own. The people that think it’s good business to fire 14,000 employees, and then ship half of their jobs overseas and then financially cripple everyone else that’s left. The people who promote each other to redundant upper-management positions and then award each other with millions in bonuses, even while they’ll drive our company right into the ground.
"I’m talking about Tom Horton and his crew at the top of this company. It’s time for them to take a walk.
"US Airways has two advantages over American. First, they understand the problems at American are systemic. They know as well as we do that American’s struggles have been brought on a bad business plan that fails to generate revenue, not the cost of paying its workers. Second, US Airways has a plan to grow our company so we can compete with United and Delta. American has no plan.
"This is about more than us. It’s about more than my salary and benefits. This is about bringing in a management team that can return this one proud company to a position of dominance in this industry. It’s about working for an airline that will lead the pack and set the standards for our competitors to follow. It’s about once again working for an airline that deserves to be called American Airlines.
"Now, on a recent flight I sat with an Executive Platinum passenger, one of the few we haven’t yet lost to our network competitors. When he found out I was a flight attendant and a union rep, he began to press me about this proposed merger. He said he understood why we as labor were all on board. But he wanted to know what was in it for him.
"So I told him all about the complimentary networks, the growth potential and the increased competition then driving down costs. But what it really boils down to is something very simple. American Airlines under its current management team and their current business plan cannot survive in this marketplace.
"The bean counters that have been running the airline for the past 10 years sat on their hands while the rest of the industry consolidated and streamlined. They squandered billions of dollars that we have been giving them since 2003. They have failed in every sense of the word and at every possible juncture. Frankly, without this merger, there’s a very real possibility that American Airlines ceases to exist.
"And that’s when reality began to sink in with this particular passenger. No more miles, no more status, no preferred check-in and early boardings, no more American Airlines. That’s not something I want to see. That’s why I’m here today.
"We can do better and we must do better. That’s why I’m here, marching beside Capt. David Bates and all of you delivering APFA’s petition confirming our membership’s overwhelming vote of no confidence in Tom Horton and his team. It’s time for a change. It’s time to make this airline great again."