Laura Glading: “We will never forget what the PBGC did for us.”
FORT WORTH, TEXAS (March 23, 2015) – At its annual convention, the union representing the 25,000 flight attendants of the new American Airlines bestowed its Edward M. Kennedy Award for Public Service on Hon. Joshua Gotbaum, former Director of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. The award was given to recognize the contributions of Mr. Gotbaum and the agency’s staff during the Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings of American Airlines. APFA noted that Gotbaum and the PBGC staff had worked both to preserve American’s pensions and to help APFA and the other unions protect their interests in the bankruptcy and merger with US Airways.
“It was a pleasure to give the Ted Kennedy award to such a deserving recipient. The men and women of the PBGC are some of the most empathetic professionals I have ever worked with. They put themselves in my shoes, and the shoes of every flight attendant at American, and viewed the bankruptcy in terms of what it meant to our families – not just numbers on a balance sheet,” said Association of Professional Flight Attendants National President Laura Glading.
Said Gotbaum, “At American, PBGC showed it can help preserve pensions, not just offer a safety net after they fail.”
During that bankruptcy, APFA and the PBGC held seats on the Unsecured Creditors’ Committee, and were integral decision-makers in the airline’s restructuring. Part of the airline’s plan was to terminate the pension plans of tens of thousands of employees. Joining with the APFA and unions representing pilots and ground workers, the PBGC helped to block that proposal and instead freeze the plans, securing the benefits employees had earned up to that point in their careers. The PBGC then joined the effort to complete a merger with US Airways while American was still in bankruptcy.
Though it began as a far-fetched plan, the merger eventually gained the support of the entire creditors’ committee due in large part to the efforts of organized labor and the PBGC. As part of the restructuring plan, the legacy American flight attendants received a valuable equity claim of the new company. More importantly, all flight attendants of the new American now work for a competitive network carrier that provides long-term job security. Finally, just 12 months after emerging from bankruptcy, the APFA reached a joint contract with industry-leading wages and strong work rules.
“I will never forget what they did for us and on behalf of all of the 25,000 flight attendants at American Airlines, I want to thank Josh and everyone else at the PBGC,” said Glading.
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