Press Releases

Ahead of Labor Day, American Airlines Pursues Executives' Riches Over Workers' Rights

Friday, August 31, 2012

Washington, D.C. – With Labor Day weekend approaching, few storylines offer such a sharp contrast between corporate greed and the original intention of this national holiday as the ongoing saga of American Airlines and its pursuit of an anti-worker agenda.

The title of a new International Business Times article captures new revelations underscoring this assessment: “Bankrupt American Airlines Seeks OK For Big Lawyer Fees As It Seeks More Worker Pay Cuts.”

The article states that “American Airlines' bankrupt parent AMR Corp., which is arguing in federal court it needs millions in contract concessions from its employees, is seeking court permission to spend hundreds of thousands to attract hedge fund investments which could reach $2 billion.”

AMR is specifically requesting the court let it set aside the $150,000 monthly fees charged by the creditor group's financial adviser, Houlihan, Lokey Howard & Zukin. It also seeks to pay the hourly fees of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP, the law firm representing the bondholders, where certain top lawyers bill $1,140 per hour. “The development is being interpreted as an effort by the AMR management to leave no stone unturned in a bid to emerge out of bankruptcy as a stand-alone entity.”

The Associated Press also covers the news of the court filing .

“What’s happening here is that American Airlines CEO Tom Horton and his executive team are desperately afraid that US Airways will acquire them, and they will find themselves being escorted to the parking lot, packing boxes in hand,” said CWA Legislative Director Shane Larson. “This Labor Day, their version of multi-tasking is going to court to gut workers’ rights on one hand while trying to line their pockets and protect their own jobs on the other.”

As CWA pointed out earlier this month, the legal fees and other costs associated with American Airlines’ ongoing efforts are in sharp contrast with the way American treats its employees. For example, American Airlines argued that high labor costs were the leading motive for its bankruptcy filing, yet they now sit on $5.8 billion in reserves and had revenue of $6.5 Billion this past quarter. Meanwhile, the company is content to pay attorney fees of $1,140 per hour, but pays an average of $27,000 per year to home-based full-time reservation agents – and is trying to shift many of its reservation agents to this category.

• Take a “By the Numbers” Look at American Airlines’ Agenda

Contact: Chuck Porcari or Liz Schilling at 202-434-1168 or cporcari@cwa-union.org and eschilling@cwa-union.org