Letter from APFA Vice President Marcus Gluth August 1, 2012
Dear Fellow Flight Attendants,
My initial reaction to the Company’s Last Best Final Offer (LBFO) was,“Oh, hell no!” and at first I thought I could never endorse this formembership ratification. But after careful study of the potential harmand future devastation which would occur if the offer were rejected,and the clear improvements to the 1113 term sheet, my position changed.Among the key points for me was the scheduling provisions which will belost forever with a vote to reject. The more I read and understood theoffer and the realities we face as a union, the easier my YES votebecame to make and recommend.
I want more than anything to see a merger with USAirways take placeduring bankruptcy. It is the best plan for the flight attendants andour company. According to USAirways’ CEO Doug Parker, the fastest wayto accomplish a merger is by approving this offer. Having said that,the LBFO represents the best insurance policy available to us in theevent that we do not achieve a merger. The absolute worst case scenariowill be realized if we reject this offer and Horton keeps control ofthe Company. We simply cannot afford that.
In virtually all previous airline bankruptcies, labor groups securedagreements similar to our LBFO and as you will read below there is animportant reason for this. If we deliver a NO vote, the judge has twooptions: rule in our favor on the Company’s Section 1113 motion, orgrant the Company their motion and legal permission to abrogate ourcontract. History shows that Courts favor the bankrupt companies inthese motions almost 100 percent of the time.
If American exits bankruptcy we will resume negotiations withmanagement. But where will we start? Since the Court will likely allowthe Company to gut our entire contract, will we be starting fromscratch, using the Section 1113 term sheet from March 22, the LBFO, orour pre-bankruptcy numbers? The Company has said they want to stickwith the March 22 term sheet, which as you remember was an insult toour profession. But, there is no law that says they can’t sink evenlower than the term sheet and knowing their tactics and the moneythey’ve been shelling out to bankruptcy lawyers, management canprobably can stretch this argument for at least a few years. Let merepeat that: if we reject the LBFO and the Court grants the Company’s1113 motion, management may be able to impose a contract even worsethan the March 22 term sheet. All they would need is a decent economicreason, like a sudden spike in oil prices, to make the argument thatmore cuts are needed. We’d fight it in court, but the system favorscompanies like American so heavily that we can’t afford the risk. Thereis a better option and it is the LBFO.
If we reject the LBFO, and the Court grants the Company’s motion, ourcontractual status will closely resemble our Agents’. If we reject theLBFO, and the Company exits bankruptcy, we will be without a contract,without an agreement, and living under implemented language.
More to the point, we all know how effectively management dragged theirfeet during negotiations for the four years leading up to bankruptcy.Count on this behavior continuing as they have nothing to lose andeverything to gain. To make matters worse, although we were once at thetop of the National Mediation Board’s priority list, we have now beenbypassed by other airlines’ labor groups and their negotiations.
On the other hand, our colleagues at TWU have ratified an agreementsimilar to our LBFO and no matter what the Company cannot later alterit. Their deal may be concessionary and tough for them to swallow, butit is still a ratified agreement and like our LBFO, it is a whole lotbetter than the term sheet they were handed in March.
If we reject the LBFO, you and I are at the mercy of the Company. Basedupon our history and management’s behavior and actions I say, “Oh, hellno!” to this option and will vote YES for the Last Best Final Offer.
Flight Attendant, IMAVice President, APFA