American Airlines flight attendants re-voting on concessions

Wednesday, April 16th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

The waiting game as to whether American Airlines will file for bankruptcy. The world's largest carrier said it needed all three of its unions to accept pay and benefit cuts to avoid chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Yesterday both the transport workers and pilots' union accepted the contract cuts. But the flight attendants union rejected it. The airline gave them until later today to vote again. The city of Tulsa figures if American does file for bankruptcy, it could affect most everyone in the city, whether they work for the airline or not.

Officials estimate each of the high paying jobs at the maintenance base supports seven other jobs in the area. Flight attendants are re-voting this afternoon. The question is, will they change their minds?

News on 6 business reporter Steve Berg says the flight attendants rejected their deal yesterday by just 533 votes. That’s out of about 19,000 votes cast. What's more, about 5,000 flight attendants didn't even vote the first time around. So there's widespread belief that this thing could swing the other way. Of course that's critical for the airline to avoid an immediate bankruptcy.

The flight attendants were seen by some experts to have the most opposition to the pay cuts, because they are already at the low end of the pay scale. American flight attendants average around $30,000 a year. A 15.6 pay cut would reduce that to around $25,000 per year.

The flight attendants would also lose a third of their vacation. Now, mechanics here are waiting to see what they will do. Randy McDonald, president of Transport Workers Union Local 514, "We're just gonna dig in here and be as calm, cool, and collected as we know how to be."

The flight attendants have until 5 PM today to re-cast their votes, while the other thousands of employees hold their breath.