FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) _ American Airlines surprised its pilots union Tuesday with an offer of immediate pay raises if members agree to accept winner-take-all arbitration.
There were a few boos from a group of about 200 uniformed pilots who marched on American's headquarters to present the union's first proposal in contract negotiations with the airline. Both sides have pledged to make American's pilots the highest-paid in the industry.
The arbitration would be modeled after the process used in Major League Baseball: The airline and the Allied Pilots Association would each submit an offer, and arbitrators would pick one instead of suggesting a compromise.
American offered pay raises of 15 percent to 22 percent on Aug. 31 if the pilots agree not to strike and to accept binding arbitration if the two sides can't agree on other issues in 120 days. American officials said they wanted to avoid drawn-out negotiations and the threat of a strike.
Union president John Darrah said that the union's board of directors would decide whether to accept American's proposal. He said pay was not the only important issue to pilots, and that the union was also seeking larger flight crews, more rest on long flights and better medical and retirement benefits.