Wednesday, February 27, 2008

American Airlines Attendants Vote
Wednesday February 27, 12:44 am ET By David Koenig, AP Business Writer

American Airlines Flight Attendants Elect New Leader As They Head Into Tough Negotiations

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) -- American Airlines flight attendants on Tuesday night elected a leader of their 1993 strike as the new president of their union, joining pilots in picking a more aggressive leader as they head into difficult contract negotiations.

Laura Glading, based in New York, defeated former president John Ward to lead the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, according to both candidates' Web sites.

Ward was president in 2003 when the union narrowly approved $340 million in annual wage and benefit concessions to keep American, the nation's largest airline, out of bankruptcy.
Glading said she will demand that flight attendants get those concessions back this year "with interest." That could set the union on a collision course with management, which says American is already at a labor cost disadvantage with other airlines.

"It's been five years since we made those significant concessions, and the cost of living has gone up," Glading said. "We can recover all those things and make significant gains."
The flight attendants' union is expected to begin negotiations on a new contract in the next few weeks. In the airline industry, such talks often drag on for years, and federal law makes it difficult for workers to go on strike.

Glading said it was too soon to talk about a strike, but said the flight attendants "are willing to do whatever needs to be done." Glading served on the union's board during a 1993 strike. She also served on the committee that negotiated a 2001 contract that was then seen as the highest in the industry. She will be sworn in as president April 1.

The current president, Tommie Hutto-Blake, did not run for re-election. She ousted Ward in a disputed election in 2004 that at one point Ward appeared to win. This time, Ward carried his home base of Dallas and a smaller outpost in Boston. Glading won in most other bases, including New York, Miami, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Glading and Ward finished ahead of two others in an election last month, but Glading didn't get a majority, requiring the runoff that ended Tuesday.

It appeared that union members also elected members of Glading's slate of nominees to become vice president, secretary and treasurer. Ward did not return a message seeking comment.
Last year, American's pilots ousted their president and replaced him with a more confrontational leader, Lloyd Hill, who proposed a 53 percent pay raise for pilots -- quickly rejected by the airline -- and called executive bonuses "blood money."

American's mechanics and bag handlers are represented by the Transport Workers Union. The three unions combined agreed to $1.6 billion in wage and benefit concessions in 2003. Fort Worth-based American is a unit of AMR Corp.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Breaking News


Monday February 12, 2008
By Roger Graham

St. Louis, MO – While elections loom across the nation, only one is more important to the flight attendants of American Airlines. They have begun casting their ballots for the president of the nation’s largest independent flight attendant union the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA).

Former APFA president John Ward has thrown his hat in the ring for the coveted seat. As the incumbent in the 2004 National Officer election, he was declared president in the heated run-off election with his opponent Tommie Hutto-Blake amid false fire alarms during the ballot count; ultimately beating out Hutto-Blake by as little as five votes.

Later that year, Tommie Hutto-Blake was installed president on August 25, 2004, by unanimous resolution of the APFA Board of Directors following the close review of an August 17, 2004 letter to Ward from John H. Heaney, Chief of the Employment Standards Administration Department of Labor, Division of Enforcement. The Department of Labor had stepped in following formal DOL election complaints in March 2004. District Director of the Office of Labor-Management Standards, DOL, Kermit Perkins and Investigator Ann Woodward, validated, opened, counted and certified 16 ballots of APFA members who had been denied the right to vote on August 12, 2004. These additional counted votes brought the previously recorded tally which had been certified on March 12, 2004, to be recertified on August 27, 2004 with Hutto-Blake declared the true winner by seven (7) votes.

In a letter dated August 17, 2004 to the union, John H. Heaney, Chief, Division of Enforcement, U.S Department of Labor had stated “it is the OLMS position that APFA should immediately install candidate Tommie Hutto-Blake to the position of APFA president”. In doing so, Chief Heaney’s letter further states it would remedy the violations that occurred during the runoff elections giving APFA an August 26, 2004 deadline.

Other issues have surrounded the ex-union leader and candidate in the past. In 2004, Mr. Ward was also brought up on charges of improperly terminating an APFA staff employee without the knowledge and approval of the Executive Committee; a violation of the union constitution and policy upheld by arbitrator Francis Quinn. “The actions surrounding the termination of (said staff member) have all the appearances of arbitrary and capricious political retaliations”. Mr. Quinn further stated “The claim that he (Mr. Ward) did not act intentionally or that there was ignorance of the contractual mandate is without merit”.

“It’s time we unite, bring about change and restore our credibility as a union”, stated Toni Delia. Delia a furloughed flight attendant recently assisted in spearheading a grassroots effort to extend the recall rights of those currently laid off. “I am casting my vote for Laura Glading”, she stated.

Mr. Ward’s opponent is long time trade unionist Laura Glading who joined him in the run-off after last month’s primary. The successor to the current president will undoubtedly have their hands full as union members are demanding pay increases and better working conditions. American’s flight attendants suffered huge pay cuts, furloughs and reduction in benefits in 2003 through a restructuring agreement signed by Mr. Ward and the airline which is now in Federal court over the voting approval process of that agreement.

Nearly 19,000 flight attendants will be waiting in the wings to see who their next union leader will be as ballots are counted on February 26, 2008.

copyright 2007 Roger Graham