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Pilots union workers picket the union

At first glance, it seems like just another airline labor dustup -- picketers in Fort Worth criticizing the lack of progress in contract talks with their airline organization.

But the protesters who marched Monday morning weren't airline employees, and airline management wasn't the target. This demonstration was conducted by employees of the Allied Pilots Association, and the managers being criticized are union pilots.

The Allied Pilots Staff Employee Association represents 23 employees who work for the pilots union, which is headquartered in Fort Worth near American Airlines offices. Members include paralegals, graphic artists, administrative assistants and other hourly employees.

Spokeswoman Kathy Schroeder, a paralegal, said the union has been working without a contract for nearly 300 days. She says the labor group agreed to concessions in their last contract, which was inked five years ago.

"Right now, what we want is to restore our contract to what it was before concessions," said Kathy Schroeder, a paralegal for the APA and a spokesman for the staff union. "Right now the APA is refusing to restore any of the items we lost."

She said the last contract, signed five years ago, included no raises, although the APA eventually did give pay increases that totaled about 4 percent over the past five years. The contract expired nearly 300 days ago, Schroeder said, but little progress has been made at the negotiating table.

APA spokesman Gregg Overman said he wasn't commenting on the talks or the picketing.

The protesting at the APA offices comes just days after the pilots union marched at airports and the headquarters of American Airlines corporate customers, criticizing airline management. Contract talks between the pilots union and the airline have dragged on for more than 18 months, and have been increasingly bitter.

The APA's tough stance against its own employees is "quite puzzling," Schroeder said. "We're behind them 100 percent in their efforts to get their contract restored, so it's surprising to us that the same people are telling us ours can't be restored."