Press Releases

By the Numbers: Putting American Airlines' Anti-Democratic Attack on Workers into Perspective

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Washington, D.C. – As American Airlines continues to do everything it can to deny passenger service agents a voice in the workplace, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) today highlights a few numbers that help to put American Airlines’ actions into perspective.

As a reminder, in June, a Texas federal judge’s ruling blocked a union representation election for 10,000 American Airlines passenger service agents and established a dangerous new precedent for corporations to shut down employees’ organizing efforts under the cover of corporations claiming potential “irreparable harm.” The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has appealed that decision and an appeals court proceeding is scheduled for October, offering hope that American Airlines’ attack on workers’ democratic rights won’t be sustained. Below are numbers to keep in mind about this ongoing battle over workers’ rights:

• 10,000: American Airlines has been doing everything it can think of, legal and not, to stop nearly 10,000 passenger service agents from exercising their legal right to a union representation vote.

• $27,000: The average salary of an American Airlines’ home-based full-time reservation agent. American is trying to shift many of its reservation agents to this category.

• $45,000: Salary of a full time airport gate agent. But only 30% of gate agents qualify as full time employees.

• $4,182,800: The 2011 total compensation awarded to Tom Horton, President and CEO of AMR and American Airlines.

• 155: The number of full-time reservations agents, with average salaries pooled together, it would take to match the 2011 compensation of CEO Horton.

• $6.5 Billion: American Airlines’ quarterly revenue this past quarter – the highest quarterly revenue in company history

• $5.8 Billion: American Airlines has argued that high labor costs are the primary motive for its bankruptcy filing. However, the bankruptcy filing was made when American Airlines had $4 billion in the bank -- leading its then CEO to resign rather than take a company with a staggeringly high cash balance into Chapter 11. Tapped as CEO after making it clear he would submit to all the wishes of a greedy Board, Tom Horton now sits on $5.8 billion in reserves.

• $250,000 and 21 Days: According to bankruptcy court reports, AMR Corporation, parent company of American Airlines, spent $253,655 on legal costs to push its anti-democratic legal arguments (consultation of Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP).

• $1.175 million: The amount American Airlines has spent on the law firm fighting the National Mediation Board (NMB) against agents’ democratic right to vote (total since September 2011).

• 121: The number of U.S. House Members who signed onto a letter calling on American Airlines to stop denying its passenger service agents the right to have a voice and a vote.

• Three Months: American Airlines’ legal claim rests on the idea that an election filing submitted in December should be subject to legislation passed nearly three months later in February. On December 7, 2011, passenger service agents at American filed for union representation with more than the required 35% showing of interest. In February 2012, the FAA reauthorization bill included a provision that increased the threshold for holding a union election to 50% of employees showing interest. American Airlines claims that the new, higher threshold should be applied retroactively, despite the statements by the Senate authors of those provisions that the 50% threshold absolutely does not apply to the American Airlines election.


Contact: Chuck Porcari or Liz Schilling at 202-434-1168 or and