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American reverses decision on pilot retro pay

American Airlines will make higher pay rates retroactive to December 2 if the pilots approve a new contract by January 30, management said in a letter on Sunday, January 11. (Special to the Star-Telegram Bob Booth)
American Airlines will make higher pay rates retroactive to December 2 if the pilots approve a new contract by January 30, management said in a letter on Sunday, January 11. (Special to the Star-Telegram Bob Booth) Special to the Star-Telegram

American pilots will get higher pay rates retroactive to December 2 if they approve a new contract, management said late Sunday evening.

In a letter sent to pilots, American president Scott Kirby reversed an earlier decision that pay rates would not be retroactive if the contract was not approved by January 19. The pilots union board had set a voting a period that extended to January 30, past the January 19 deadline.

“The objective of the January 19 deadline was not to rush you. The objective was to force the APA Board to act and provide our pilots the opportunity to vote on a proposal that would improve their compensation and benefits by $2 billion over the JCBA implemented by arbitration. And fortunately, that objective has been achieved. Accordingly, today we are reaching out to the APA Board to extend the date for pay retroactivity to January 30,” Kirby said in the letter.

Pilots will begin voting this week on a contract proposal that includes 23 percent pay raises but does not include work rule changes and a profit-sharing plan that the union had hoped to negotiate.

Keep reading for the full letter from Kirby.

American letter to pilots on Sunday, January 11

Dear Pilots:

We have heard from many of you since our letter on Friday. Thank you for reaching out. Most all of those we have heard from have asked about the January 19 deadline for ratification for the new pay rates to be retroactive to December 2. And many of you have suggested that the January 19 deadline is unreasonable, based on the representation by the APA Board that it did not receive the final Domestic-International language until January 9.

If that representation were an accurate statement of the facts, of course, it would be unreasonable to ask for a January 19 ratification. But that representation is neither accurate nor fair to our pilots. We have worked veryhard to not get into the blow-by-blow account of the APA Board’s inaccuracies, but with the ratification date ahead, it now seems important that we do so. The fact is that the APA Board has known about the January 19 deadline since December 23 when the Company agreed to extend the retro pay deadline for the third time. Moreover, until December 29, the APA negotiating committee and the Company had an agreed approach to the D-I issue and agreed upon language that would support that approach. Finally, after the APA Board asked for more detailed language on Domestic-International, we agreed to try, and we delivered the D-I language to the APA Board on January 3. Unfortunately, the APA Board then spent the next six days attempting to renegotiate concepts that had long been agreed to at the table, knowing full well that they had also agreed to a January 19 deadline for retroactivity, and that that date was fast approaching.

There are numerous other examples of this kind of non-helpful back and forth that have occurred over the past several months, but that isn't really important at this point. Bottom line, know that the January 19 deadline was set on December 23, agreed to by the APA Board, and that management ensured the APA Board had everything it would need to meet that deadline. One of the more distressing mischaracterizations has been the APA Board's disparagement of the Company's negotiators. Most of those are fellow employees who work in finance, labor and flight operations, and who support all of us. That team worked tirelessly and extensively over the Holidays, and we should all be proud to work with such committed individuals who, like you, simply want to move forward as one team.

So here we are, management and union debating in public – but the ones getting hurt are our line pilots. You are the ones who lose two months of retroactive pay increases if the ratification date does not move. Irrespective of how we got here, the fact is that our pilots did not get the Company's proposal from the APA Board until January 9, and our line pilots deserve some time to consider the proposal. The objective of the January 19 deadline was not to rush you. The objective was to force the APA Board to act and provide our pilots the opportunity to vote on a proposal that would improve their compensation and benefits by $2 billion over the JCBA implemented by arbitration. And fortunately, that objective has been achieved. Accordingly, today we are reaching out to the APA Board to extend the date for pay retroactivity to January 30.

Thank you for bearing with us through this process. There is certainly a lot of lingering mistrust to overcome and we are committed to doing just that over time. Please take the time you need to understand our proposal and vote how you see fit. So long as the offer is ratified by January 30, the new pay rates will be effective retroactive to December 2. Thanks for taking the time to read yet another letter on this topic, and thank you for your commitment to American.

Scott

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