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American pilots contract vote ends on Jan. 30

Pilots from both airlines gather for a photo then US Airways CEO Doug Parker and then American Airlines CEO Tom Horton after the announcement of the airlines merger at DFW Airport on Thursday, February 14, 2013. Allied Pilots Association president Keith Wilson is pictured second from the right. (Star-Telegram/Ron T. Ennis)
Pilots from both airlines gather for a photo then US Airways CEO Doug Parker and then American Airlines CEO Tom Horton after the announcement of the airlines merger at DFW Airport on Thursday, February 14, 2013. Allied Pilots Association president Keith Wilson is pictured second from the right. (Star-Telegram/Ron T. Ennis) Star-Telegram/Ron T. Ennis

American Airlines pilots will vote on management’s latest contract proposal starting on Wednesday with voting ending on January 30, the Allied Pilots Association said on Friday.

The union board approved the final contract language from American which includes 23 percent pay raises but does not have a profit-sharing plan or work rule changes that the pilots have asked for.

American management had previously agreed to make the new pay rates in the contract retroactive to December 2 if the pilots voted and approved the new contract by January 19. Since the voting period goes beyond that date, it is unclear if American will make the pay raises retroactive.

“If management proves inflexible and does not modify their Jan. 19 deadline and our members vote "yes," they will suffer significant harm by losing retro pay for December and January totaling more than $100 million,” APA president Keith Wilson said in a message to pilots late Friday evening. “It's hard to imagine how a difference of 11 days could be worth exacting such a heavy penalty on our pilots.”

If the pilots do not approve the contract, management and the union will enter arbitration, which would begin on Feb. 24.

Keep reading for the union hotline and the full message from Wilson.

APA Information Hotline

APA BOARD OF DIRECTORS SPECIAL MEETING: The APA board of directors reconvened at APA headquarters at 9 a.m.

The board took the following actions today.

Adopted the following motions:

-Withdraw the APA joint collective bargaining agreement proposal presented to the company Jan. 2.

-Send AAG's final offer to the APA membership for a ballot vote per the timelines established by the board for such purpose.

-Complete the vote on the JCBA process by Jan. 30.

-Reschedule the next board meeting to Jan. 30–31.

-Voted to approve R2015-02, "Letter G Acceptance Date," which states that "the board directs the APA President to inform the Company that the Association does not recognize January 19, 2015, as the date that a deferred pilot must declare his or her intent to exercise a contractual right." This resolution further states that "the Association recognizes DOS (date of signing) plus 14 days, as the date for a deferred pilot to accept recall and lay claim to any possible LOS improvement that may be awarded in arbitration or granted in largesse by the Company."

The board adjourned its meeting at 6 p.m.

SENIORITY LIST INTEGRATION ARBITRATION: The seniority list integration preliminary arbitration board today released its decision ordering "APA to designate the West Pilots Merger Committee as a full participant in the seniority integration process." The board recognized APA's desire to establish a full and fair process and noted there are three separate pilot seniority list groups who each have "a distinct interest regarding the integration of those seniority lists." The board further found that "APA has the discretion to designate a West Pilots Merger Committee to participate in the seniority Integration List (SLI) process, and that it should do so" and concluded that " 'fairness and equity' demand the appointment of a West Pilot Merger Committee." The preliminary arbitration was held Dec. 15–17 in Washington, D.C. The arbitration panel included chairman Joshua M. Javits and members Stephen Crable and Shyam Das. The decision, along with transcripts and party briefs, are posted on alliedpilots.org.

That's it for now. Thank you for checking this hotline.

Message from APA President Keith Wilson

Late Wednesday evening, management confirmed to APA in writing what they had previously stated in discussions — that retro pay effective Dec. 2, 2014, will be granted only if our membership approves the joint collective bargaining agreement proposal no later than Jan. 19, 2015. If pilots vote to approve the JCBA proposal after Jan. 19 but before the Feb. 24 start of the JCBA arbitration, management reiterated that new pay rates will become effective on the next bid month following membership acceptance. In addition, they informed APA that once the JCBA arbitration begins, their proposal — including pay rates — will be withdrawn.

APA did not receive all final contractual language until today, which would give us 10 days to conclude membership balloting under management's deadline. Jan. 19 is an arbitrary and unworkable deadline, and that's putting it charitably. It's ludicrous to think APA and its membership can conclude this process in 10 scant days.

During the week between Christmas and New Year's, APA's officers, negotiating team and subject-matter experts continued working to finalize contractual language so that the APA board of directors could reach a decision by Jan. 3. Unfortunately, the contractual language was not completed by Jan. 3, which is why the board voted to accept management's offer conditionally pending final language.

Throughout the JCBA process, APA has repeatedly emphasized to management the need for final contractual language. For example, when we presented our comprehensive counterproposal on Dec. 17, we made it clear that our board would need final language to review before commencing membership balloting.

When negotiations between APA and management did not produce an agreement, management proffered arbitration on Dec. 23, stating that negotiations between APA and management had concluded. Management informed APA that we needed to accept their offer by Jan. 3, 2015, in order for retro pay effective Dec. 2, 2014, to be included. Management also indicated verbally that they wanted a conclusion to membership balloting no later than Jan. 19, 2015.

At that time, I emphasized to American Airlines President Scott Kirby the need for APA to have final contractual language before our Jan. 2–3 board meeting. In discussions with management Dec. 31, I again reiterated the need for final language for our board to review.

This afternoon, the board established Jan. 30 as the voting deadline. The APA leadership considers the 30th to be a reasonable deadline under the circumstances. This timetable gives the APA membership sufficient time to become familiar with the proposed new agreement and make an informed decision.

If management proves inflexible and does not modify their Jan. 19 deadline and our members vote "yes," they will suffer significant harm by losing retro pay for December and January totaling more than $100 million. It's hard to imagine how a difference of 11 days could be worth exacting such a heavy penalty on our pilots.

It's ironic that we've been given an unrealistic deadline for concluding membership balloting considering the flexibility we've shown in accommodating management's timetable. As you may recall, an airline official stated during American Airlines' Oct. 23 third-quarter earnings call that management would "begin negotiations in earnest with the pilots right after" the APFA vote results were final. This statement came after APA agreed to a 30-day extension. After the APFA membership voted to reject their tentative agreement, management presented their initial economic proposal to APA on Nov. 11.

This entire process has been highly time-compressed, with the JCBA negotiations taking place during a 60-day period that included two major holidays. Management's expectation that our members undertake the necessary due diligence and make a decision of this magnitude by the 19th just makes no sense.

APA has repeatedly accommodated management's timetable during the JCBA process. If management is sincere about fostering a new culture at American Airlines, extending our pilots the same professional courtesy would be an excellent opportunity to demonstrate their sincerity. The alternative — demanding that our pilots adhere to an unrealistic deadline — would reinforce the impression that very little cultural change is actually taking place.

Which is it going to be?

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