Washington Ways: January 2009 Archives
American Airlines takes a very different view of mediation than do its unions. When the last of its worker groups went to the National Mediation Board this week, it was with real anger. 'American is a bunch of no-goodnicks and they should all go away and be chicken-pluckers' was the basic message. Their language was slightly less blunt, but contained plenty of accusations of bad faith, etc. The airline has a slightly calmer view of things, and its senior veep for human resources, Jeff Brundage, was ready to take to the web to explain its position. The airline, he says, joined in the request for an outside third-party referee, he says, although "we recognize that mediation is no panacea. It doesn't guarantee an outcome better for either side than might have been achieved otherwise."
All for one, one for all, and it's unanimous: nobody is happy at American Airlines. The airline and every one of its employee groups have now handed their negotiatIons over to National Mediation Board referees. The last group standing, the Transport Workers Union, now says it has sought a federal mediator for the last two of the employee groups it represents. The airline, based near the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, says it "agrees guidance by the National Mediation Board would be beneficial."
Bill Swelbar of The MIT Airline Project offers some perspective, noting that "this is the first time in memory that any large carrier has seen every one of its unions seeking mediation."