Thursday, March 11, 2010

American Airlines says APFA stretched the truth, acted in bad faith
Wed, Mar 10, 2010
Terry Maxon/Reporter

The Association of Professional Flight Attendants took "serious libertieswith the truth" and was not bargaining in good faith when it said AmericanAirlines' negotiating team walked out on negotiations last week, American'slead negotiator said Wednesday.

In a negotiations update, Mark Burdette, vice president of employeerelations, said the union's version of events misrepresented what happenedat the bargaining table when American and APFA negotiators met for five daysending March 3.

Among other things, the union had said the company had walked out onnegotiations with 10 hours left, that American had refused to consider theunion's last proposal, that American had negotiated in bad faith and thatthe airline's actions were "inexcusable. "Here's an excerpt from Burdette's version of events of what happened March3, the last day:

"Early that afternoon, union negotiators told the mediator that they wereworking on a proposal with a 'new direction' and asked us to stay into theevening to receive it. So we did, with several members of our team missingtheir flights home to honor that request.

"But whether the union changed its mind or was simply testing us I can'tsay, because more than four hours later they emerged with a proposal thatrepresented no change in their position from the day before. The 'new'proposal in fact changed exactly two words, neither of any consequence."

So with nothing new at play and further progress unlikely, the mediatorsignaled the end - two hours after the scheduled conclusion and followinghours and hours of talks. We left disappointed but committed to returningfor another round as soon as a new session was scheduled.

"To our surprise, the APFA had other plans. In a hotline and mediastatements that followed, the union's leadership issued a patently falsecharacterization of the events and a scathing attack on the company'sintentions."Perhaps the APFA leadership planned all along to accuse us of 'turning ourbacks' on negotiations as a way to rile flight attendants, and when they couldn't get us to walk out, they concocted the story that we did."

Perhaps the APFA's goal was to gain leverage by trying to paint thecompany's negotiators in a negative light."Perhaps the APFA opted for the drama of a good tale rather than take on the important task of communicating the details of the proposals on the table, including the company's offer of a wage increase on top of currentindustry-leading compensation."

But whatever the intent, the union responded in a way that was not fair,not accurate, and definitely not in good faith."We'll put up any union response to American's allegations.

The APFA's board has scheduled an April strike vote for members and isscheduled to meet with the National Mediation Board next week to ask to bereleased into a 30-day cooling-off period, a prelude to a possible strike.

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