Flight attendants back Davis for stand on merger

Posted Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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As a result of the American Airlines-US Airways merger, the largest airline in the world will now have its headquarters in North Texas.

The new American Airlines is hiring again for the first time in more than a decade.

The two major candidates for Texas governor had very different reactions to the merger before it was finalized. State Sen. Wendy Davis proved she was on the side of Texas jobs, while Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott tried to scrap the merger altogether.

American Airlines filed for bankruptcy in November 2011. Having seen other carriers go through the process, flight attendants at American feared what Chapter 11 meant for our families: dramatic pay cuts, pension termination, even furloughs.

We were all living with this uncertainty when US Airways proposed the merger plan. Seeing the opportunity to make our company great again, American’s employees immediately supported the deal.

The merger plan saved jobs, provided long-term job security and even promised growth for the new American.

It kept the headquarters in Fort Worth. It increased the airline’s ability to compete. It was a win-win-win for our workers, the Texas economy and airline consumers.

Out of the blue, Abbott partnered with the Obama administration in filing a lawsuit to block the American-US Airways merger by saying, “We believe that actions by the airlines and their officials violate antitrust laws.”

Abbott’s words are those of someone who has been a government employee for 23 years and doesn’t understand the global marketplace or Texas’ place in it.

And what was Davis’ reaction? Immediately after the Justice Department and Abbott sued to stop the merger, she stood up for American’s employees.

In a letter to the administration, Davis wrote that the antitrust lawsuit threatened tens of thousands of jobs, impeded American’s chances of survival and that the merger would make the airline better able to compete.

This type of pressure helped turn the tide.

When Texans spoke up, Abbott did a 180-degree turn faster than a barrel racer at the Fort Worth Stock Show.

Texans told Abbott about the 21,000 Texas jobs that would be threatened if the merger didn’t go forward.

Texans told Abbott about how DFW International Airport, American’s home hub and one of the busiest airports in the world, was an economic engine for North Texas.

And Texans told Abbott that the American-US Airways merger increased competition by creating an airline that could better compete with mega-airlines created by the Delta-Northwest and United-Continental mergers, as well as foreign carriers that increasingly dominate international travel.

Abbott quickly dismissed his lawsuit to block the merger, about which he initially claimed “the legal violations appear so overt that it would offend my oath of office not to take action.”

So it can’t help but make one wonder how seriously Abbott takes his oath of office.

The Obama administration soon followed suit, allowing the largest airline to emerge and allowing the families of its workers, many of them in Texas, to breathe a sigh of relief.

Texas flight attendants and their families are ready for takeoff with Wendy Davis as our governor, because she understands the importance of protecting and promoting one of the biggest economic engines in Texas, the jobs that it creates and the lives that it impacts.

Laura Glading is president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, representing more than 16,000 flight attendants at American Airlines. president@apfa.org

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