Last updated: 12:30 PM ET, Wed October 28 2015

Attorney Puts American On Notice Over Flight Attendants

Airlines & Airports | American Airlines | Rich Thomaselli | October 28, 2015

Attorney Puts American On Notice Over Flight Attendants

More than 1,300 American Airlines flight attendants – paying $41 each – have retained an attorney to investigate claims of wrongdoing during the American-US Airways merger and the current contract negotiated by the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) union.

Attorney Brian R. Mildenberg, Esq., of Philadelphia-based Mildenberg Law Firm, on Tuesday sent a lengthy letter to American Airlines general counsel Paul Jones, putting the company on notice.

“Please be advised that I have been retained by over 1,300 American Airlines Flight Attendants to advocate on their behalf, investigate their claims and to file complaints with the United States Department of Justice and the United States Department of Labor as necessary,” Mildenberg wrote.

The issue could have ripple effects on labor negotiations throughout the industry – United, with deals still to sign with flight attendants and maintenance workers, comes to mind – and in fact has already had one casualty. Laura Glading, the embattled president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, the flight attendants' union at American Airlines, resigned on Oct. 9, almost two months before her contract was up.

Some flight attendants picketed the union’s headquarters earlier that week, alleging that collusion and nepotism within American and is merger partner, US Airways, contributed to reduced wages and a lack of a profit-sharing plan.

Senior American Airlines flight attendant and union activist Rock Salomon, who, along with a group of concerned flight attendants, has challenged the conduct of the negotiations and deal making surrounding American Airlines' merger with US Airways and related agreements made between US Airways, American Airlines, and APFA. It was Salomon who reached out to Mildenberg and began gathering the 1,300+ participants so far.

Among other concerns, the flight attendants say the new agreements negotiated among the three parties resulted in the loss of profit sharing terms and other benefits in their contract with the merged airline, and purported to bind the flight attendants to binding arbitration instead of open market negotiation of contract terms.

"At the request of Mr. Salomon, our law firm has agreed to become engaged by American Airlines flight attendants seeking counsel in order to formally investigate these issues, advocate on behalf of those concerned, file complaints with the United States Department of Justice, and make legal demands to the airline," Mildenberg wrote.

The letter sent on Tuesday to American – addressed to Jones but, ostensibly, intended for American CEO Doug Parker – placed the airline on notice of clients' claims and demanded reinstatement of their profit-sharing and other lost benefits, and requesting preservation of all relevant documents and other evidence.

“We can argue about how it happened, and the propriety of the negotiating process that my clients believe involved collusive meetings between American CEO Doug Parker, American President Scott Kirby, and former APFA President Laura Glading, and her family member, American Airlines Treasurer Thomas Weir, or we can get right down to the facts,” Mildenberg wrote. “Our clients believe that these negotiations were wholly inappropriate, and resulted in a collusive, harmful relationship that contributed to the company's forced extraction of unfair wage concessions, including but not limited to the termination of the Flight Attendants' traditional, customary, well-deserved and well-earned profit-share in the company. It is estimated that over the six years of their imposed contract, American Airlines Flight Attendants will have lost in excess of $100 Million in profit share.”

It is not clear if American has received the letter yet sent to Jones’ office.

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