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American and US Airways unions meet with DOJ

Unions representing the majority of employees at American Airlines and US Airways met with representatives of the US Department of Justice (DOJ) today, lobbying in favour of the deal.

Union leaders from Allied Pilots Association (APA), Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA), Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA), Transport Workers Union and US Airline Pilots Association (USAPA) met with Bill Baer, assistant attorney general for the antitrust division at the DOJ, and David Gelfand, deputy assistant attorney general for litigation in the agency’s antitrust division, says Laura Glading, president of APFA, during an employee rally at the US Capitol in Washington DC today.

She says that the unions presented employees’ case for the merger, which includes greater job security and more employment opportunities, and that Baer and Gelfand “asked a lot of questions”, during the meeting.

APFA represents flight attendants at American.

The DOJ did not immediately comment on the meeting but Baer has previously spoken out against the deal.

“We think the right solution here is a full-stop injunction,” he said when the agency filed its challenge to the deal with US district court on 13 August.

Glading and other union leaders, including AFA US Airways master executive council president Roger Homlin and APA president captain Keith Wilson who represents American pilots, were joined by more than 300 employees from both airlines at the rally in support of the merger.

“100,000 employees working with management? Boy, is this the airline industry?” jokes James Ray, communications chairman at USAPA, reflecting the contentious history between labour and airline management at the rally.

The employees were scheduled to meet with at least 320 representatives and senators to lobby for approval of the merger today.

Not all employee groups support the deal. American Eagle flight attendants represented by AFA joined the event citing a lack of answers regarding the wholly-owned regional carrier’s future in the merged carrier and asking for more clarity.

“We’re not so much opposing the merger,” the union told Flightglobal on 17 August. “There’s just so many questions and no answers have been given to our workers.”

American, US Airways and the DOJ are scheduled to go to trial in front of US District Court for the District of Columbia judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly on 25 November. The trial is expected to take 10 days.

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