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American Airlines pilot union delays vote on $9 billion contracts

The 15,000 pilots in American Airlines' union say the tentative agreement still doesn't match the benefits of United Airlines pilots.
American Airlines pilot union delays vote on $9 billion contracts
Posted at 7:10 PM, Jul 24, 2023

American Airlines' push to seal its billion-dollar pilot deal has come to a halt.

The airline's pilot union, Allied Pilots Association, was expected to vote on a $9 billion tentative agreement Monday, but in a memo Sunday, the union said they would indefinitely postpone the vote until further amendments were made to the agreement.

The company had agreed Friday to raise its tentative agreement, or TA, by more than $1 billion, bringing the total amount for the four-year offer to more than $9 billion. The move brought it to par with the new pay standards set by its competitor, United Airlines, about a week before.

But in its memo Sunday, the 15,000-pilot union said American's TA is still behind on other improvements "that would bring us in line with our peers."

"Apparently, Robert Isom's idea of taking care of our pilots and ensuring parity with our peers at other airlines is that we will be paid comparably while working under more onerous work rules. That won’t fly," the memo said.

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American Airlines CEO Robert Isom told pilots they would have a "new quality of life" with the ratification of the TA, which he hoped would happen by August. And although he reiterated his commitment to match wages, including retroactive pay, the pilots say he did not commit to matching "the work rules and quality-of-life provisions in the TA in a manner comparable to what (CEO) Scott Kirby has committed to at United."

"Robert Isom said he wants pilots to 'feel great about their jobs,'" the memo said. "For that to happen, we need work rules that meaningfully improve our work-life balance and how we perform our job, and we want a management that recognizes our job is more than just the paycheck we receive for going to work."

The union said it wouldn't agree to the TA until it outlined "sufficient compensation" and enhanced work and quality-of-life rules, like that of United pilots.

The deal United pilots' union made with the airline gave the employees up to a 40% raise. With about a $10 billion value over four years, it includes bonuses, extended sick bank, better life insurance and other benefits.

And those aren't the only two pilot unions battling for better deals. In March, Delta Airlines pilots agreed to a four-year deal with 34% raises, and Southwest Airlines' pilots union has recently approved a strike authorization vote after three years of unsuccessful negotiations.

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