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Are American Airline Executives Cashing In, While Tulsa Area Workers Get Docked?

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Gerard Arpey (left) was CEO of American from 2002 until just a few days ago. American's newly named CEO Tom Horton (right) rejoined the company in 2006. Gerard Arpey (left) was CEO of American from 2002 until just a few days ago. American's newly named CEO Tom Horton (right) rejoined the company in 2006.
American Airlines insists they're paying $800 million more for their employees than their competitors. American Airlines insists they're paying $800 million more for their employees than their competitors.
According to the airline, TWU mechanics are in the middle of the pack, earning up to $33 an hour. That's ten dollars an hour less than Southwest mechanics. According to the airline, TWU mechanics are in the middle of the pack, earning up to $33 an hour. That's ten dollars an hour less than Southwest mechanics.
TULSA, Oklahoma -

One day after Tulsa's largest employer files for bankruptcy protection, employees fear for their jobs and salaries.

American Airlines' CEO says the struggling airline is paying way too much for its workers. Some viewers asked us if rank and file workers have seen their jobs cut and pay slashed, while executives cash in.

"The pay benefits and job security of all of our members and other unions at AA likely will be the major target of this process," said John Hewitt, Chairman of Maintenance for Local 514.

Bankruptcy won't be easy, but some are questioning whether the burden will be shared by those at the top, as well as the bottom.

A News on Six viewer asks if executive pay has increased at a time when rank and file workers have seen their pay docked.

Gerard Arpey was CEO of American from 2002 until just a few days ago. His base salary in 2002 was $580,000. His base salary in 2009 was $669,646. That is a difference of $89,646, a 15.4 percent increase.

American's newly named CEO Tom Horton rejoined the company in 2006. His salary jumped about 35 percent, from $456,000 to $618,000 in the last three years.

But base salary doesn't include the whole financial package. American's CEO and its top executives also get stock awards, options, incentives and other compensation.

Former CEO Gerard Arpey's total package was projected to be worth about $5.6 Million. Current CEO Tom Horton's a little over $3 million. But American Airlines says only 25 percent of that is guaranteed.

The company says most of executive pay is tied to the company's stock performance, and that's been on a steady decline for months, and now stands at around 34 cents a share.

So what was worth millions at the end of 2009 could be worth a fraction of that today. And what about labor?

American Airlines insists they're paying $800 million more for their employees than their competitors. According to the airline, TWU mechanics are in the middle of the pack, earning up to $33 an hour. That's ten dollars an hour less than Southwest mechanics.

But again that's not the whole picture. American says most other airlines don't offer employee pensions, don't offer retirees medical benefits, and American employees have lower health insurance premiums than their counterparts at other airlines.

A company spokesperson says back in 2001, United, Continental, and Delta all had roughly the same number of maintenance workers as American.

Those other airlines have slashed their staffs, often outsourcing the work overseas. In 2009, you'd have to add Delta's force and United's together to equal American's.

11/29/2011 Related Story: American Airlines Files For Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection

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