Friday, November 16, 2007

Nov. 15, 2007, 5:36PM

Bond co-sponsors bill to extend airline workers' recall rights
© 2007 The Associated Press

ST. LOUIS — Laid-off American Airlines attendant Roger Graham is applauding a decision by Sen. Kit Bond to co-sponsor a bill that would extend recall rights at certain airlines. Graham, from St. Charles, is organizing the ex-TWA attendants who are fighting to get their old jobs back.

He says he's elated that Bond, a Republican, and Sen. ClaireMcCaskill, a Democrat, have joined forces on this nonpartisan issue."It makes me proud to be a Missourian," he said.

The bill, introduced by McCaskill, would extend recall rights to 10 years at airlines, including American, that received federal moneyafter Sept. 11, 2001.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

American to extend recall rights for former TWA flight attendants
Tim Logan

11/01/2007 12:00:00 AM

At last, 410 ex-TWA flight attendants who lost their jobs five years ago are getting some good news. Not their jobs back. Not yet. But a reprieve, at least, for two months, while American Airlines, their union and Sen. Claire McCaskill try and hash out a deal that would give them and 1,050 of their colleagues a shot at flying again.

Friday, in a news conference at Lambert Field, McCaskill will announce that American will extend the recall rights of 410 laid-off flight attendants that were due to expire today. The extension will run through the end of the year, she said, buying time for all sides to keep negotiating a permanent settlement.

The airline declined to comment before McCaskill's announcement, but a source there confirmed the news. It's the result of months of "shuttle diplomacy" between the senator, the airline and the Association of Professional Flight Attendants over the fate of some 1,460 ex-TWA attendants who lost their jobs after Sept. 11 and the company's merger, and who have been watching their five-year recall rights wind down.

There was enough progress in talks between the union and the airline, McCaskill said, that American agreed to keep the group laid off on Nov. 1, 2002 on the recall list for another two months."It's a major step forward on American's part," McCaskill said. She's been speaking up on the issue since her campaign for Senate in 2006, which was supported by many ex-TWA workers in Missouri. She has been working on measure to better manage airline mergers. And in July, she proposed a bill that would grant 10-year recall rights to any worker laid off after 9/11 by an airline, like American, that received federal assistance. So far, that bill has gained little traction in Congress, but it has strong labor support and helped start conversations between American and the APFA, McCaskill said.

Those led to a sit-down in her Washington office a few weeks ago with top executives from the airline and the union, and talks are continuing."I'm going to remain optimistic that both sides are going to do the right thing," McCaskill said. "And I am more than happy to use the pressure of my office to help these 1,400 people who've been treated very unfairly."For the ex-TWA flight attendants, who were put at the bottom of union seniority lists in the merger with American and all lost their jobs in the waves of layoffs after 9/11, the news was most welcome. About 1,000 have already fallen off the list and last week, 410 got letters saying they were next. Now that group has another chance.

"This is the most wonderful thing that could happen to those people," said Roger Graham, a flight attendant from St. Charles who's been leading the recall effort. "I'm at a loss for words."Graham says his group will keep up the pressure, and push for a deal that will make the extension permanent.

While American has recalled 660 flight attendants this year, some say it's been reluctant to extend recall rights because it would rather hire younger, less-expensive attendants after the last furloughees drop off the list in July. But it is entering negotiations with the APFA on a new contract, and may be able to cut a deal on something else. Both sides are watching the Federal Aviation Administration re-authorization bill, currently before Congress, and would like an ally in McCaskill, who sits on the Senate panel that oversees the airline industry. 314-340-8291