American Airlines' maintenance workers having second thoughts over support for a new contract to save the airline from bankruptcy

Thursday, April 17th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Sparks are flying between management and unions for American Airlines. This could jeopardize a newly reached deal to keep American from filing for bankruptcy.

News on 6 anchor Craig Day says the controversy is over what some call a golden deal for American Airlines executives. It's something the employees say they knew nothing about when they approved sweeping salary cuts to keep the airline in business.

Pat Crisos is frustrated, and fed up with the way things are going at American Airlines.” I’ve got a year to go to be 60 and I fear losing my retirement." Crisos says he loves his job and the company, but he feels like he and other American Airlines employees are the victims of a dirty trick. “How many times can you get had and you lose your trust."

Crisos is upset over hefty bonuses and pension guarantees promised to top American Airlines executives last year but only disclosed this week. The company also offered six top executives bonuses double their base salaries if they remain with American until early 2005.

An American spokesman said the benefits were designed to retain top talent and were similar to deals offered by other major companies. That angers union employees who just approved sweeping cuts in salary and benefits to help the company avoid bankruptcy.

Union officials now say they "must reconsider whether they will sign off, even if the consequence is bankruptcy." That threat is what all American Airlines employee are talking about. Chris Tillman, American Airlines mechanic, "I hope the union and the company can come to an agreement on this. I hate to see anybody lose their job."

Jim Hamilton, American Airlines employee, "is there going to be a future for American Airlines? We don't know. That's up to them.” Many American employees say there is a 50-50 chance the stalemate will be resolved.

As for Pat Crisos. he hopes for the best. "We'll just have to wait to see how this all plays out. It's a shame."

The president of the flight attendants' union also says he's appalled and disgusted with American Airlines executives. The flight attendants union is also considering whether to pull away from the deal over salary cuts.