American Announces Accord with Pilots: But Union Insists Talks Aren't Over

By Kaplan, Peter | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), March 20, 1997 | Go to article overview

American Announces Accord with Pilots: But Union Insists Talks Aren't Over


Kaplan, Peter, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


American Airlines made peace with its pilots union yesterday, reaching a tentative agreement that promised to end the 2 1/2-year contract dispute.

After days of negotiations on a secluded island off the coast of Washington, the company said it had reached a deal in principal with the Allied Pilots Association (APA) that would end the threat of a shutdown at the nation's second-largest airline.

"We are very happy that we have a deal, and we want to get on with the business of running an airline," said American spokesman John Hotard.

Neither side would discuss details of the deal. The 9,300-member pilots union insisted last night that the talks weren't over yet.

Regardless, both sides said they expected a settlement to go before the union's board of directors at a meeting here scheduled for tomorrow. The APA's directors could either reject the deal or accept it and submit it to union members for a vote.

The union directors recommended another settlement last summer, but it was voted down.

The latest agreement was brokered by an emergency mediation board President Clinton created last month. The president intervened minutes after a Feb. 15 strike deadline passed and the union ordered its pilots to leave their aircraft and shut down the airline.

It was only the second time a president invoked powers under the National Railway Labor Relations Act to avert an airline shutdown. The act gives the president authority to order pilots back to work for a 60-day "cooling-off" period.

An American shutdown would paralyze a large portion of the nation's air-traffic system and cost the U.S. economy as much as $200 million a day, according to Transportation Department estimates. American has about 90,000 employees and carries about 200,000 passengers a day on roughly 2,200 routes.

If the latest agreement were to fall through, the pilots would be free to strike again April 28. …

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