FORT WORTH — By a narrow 9-7 vote, the board of directors for the Allied Pilots Association voted to send American Airlines’ "last, best and final offer" for a new contract to its 10,000 members late Wednesday afternoon.
It is the first time since 2003 that pilots will vote on a new contract with the airline.
Despite being such a close vote, insiders said the board room still erupted in applause after it was taken. Up until that vote, insiders said the pilots were on a conference call with American Airlines CEO Tom Horton and other senior staff trying to negotiate details.
The APA said it will refine language and then send a synopsis out to its members in the next two weeks. Then union leaders will spend two weeks on the road visiting all of the pilot bases and explaining the offer to them personally.
Finally, it will take about two weeks, the APA said, to conduct the vote. Results will be tallied by August 8, the APA said.
This move by the pilots sets off a chain of events.
U. S. Bankruptcy Judge Sean Lane has now agreed to delay his decision on whether to void the airline’s labor contracts — not just for the pilots, but also for flight attendants, mechanics and ground workers — until August 15.
That means other unions will now have time to negotiate their own deals with American. The Association for Professional Flight Attendants, representing American’s flight attendants, has three days of meetings scheduled with the carrier in Fort Worth beginning next Tuesday.
An attorney for the Transport Workers Union said that labor group was also planning to meet with the company again if the pilots sent their proposal to their membership for a ratification vote.
American said its "last, best and final offer" to the pilots includes 17 percent in cuts, rather than the 20 percent it had originally sought. In addition, the airline said its new offer gives most pilots a pay raise, a 13 percent equity stake in the restructured American Airlines, and saves 400 jobs that were on the chopping block.
“American Airlines is pleased the Allied Pilots Association is putting out the tentative agreement for a vote,” said American Airlines spokesman Bruce Hicks. “We believe this agreement addresses the needs of our pilots while achieving the goals of our business plan, and further demonstrates our commitment to reaching consensual agreements with all of our unions. It's time to close this chapter and move forward with new contracts that will help build the foundation for a new, profitable and growing American Airlines.”