Immediately following the 9/11 attacks, American was on the verge of bankruptcy and received a government bailout in the form of cash payments and loan guarantees that totaled approximately $840 million, while simultaneously American Airlines was laying off the entire flight attendant work force of the newly acquired TWA. Congress and the TWA employees were promised a fair and equitable integration of the work groups but managed to sidestep these promises once approval was given. Today, the very same former TWA employees are still without jobs and being permanently severed as their five-year recall rights to their positions expire.
Just days after American’s executives lined their pockets with an approximate $160 million in bonuses, CEO Gerard Arpey during a meeting with analysts hinted he holds little hope for these laid-off employees ever returning due to the contractual five year recall rights with American’s flight attendant union. Roger Graham an 18-year veteran of the former TWA states, “Mr. Arpey knows full well that the issue of extending these recall rights of these employees (that were affected by 9/11) can easily be solved with a letter of agreement with the flight attendant union.”
The excessive bonuses coupled with terminated and laid-off employees may leave the U.S. taxpayer wondering how American Airlines spent their 9/11 taxpayer funded bailout. While labor strife abounds over the bonuses, the public should be questioning whether it was their tax dollars that saved the airline and elevated the stock price that is now becoming a windfall for a few corporate barons.
Graham stated, “Under a bill that the house began debating last month, shareholders would have the right to a non-binding vote on the pay packages of senior executives. Perhaps, it is now time, that taxpayers have the same vote when it comes to a government bailout.”
Toni Delia contributed to this article.