ALPA Refutes Crandall Remarks on Airline Labor

June 19, 2008 - ALPA refuted seriously misleading comments made by Former AMR and American Airlines chief Robert L. Crandall before The Wings Club in New York City on June 10.

In his misguided call for airline management to “receive help in curbing labor costs,” Crandall blatantly ignored the enormous concessions airline employees have made to save their airlines and bring them back to financial health. Between 2002 and 2011, labor at the seven largest U.S. airlines will have given $75 billion in concessions. Almost $30 billion will come from pilots in wages, work rules, and benefits. Terminated pensions totaled another $5+ billion.

Moreover, Crandall grossly exaggerated the cost of labor relative to overall airline operations, choosing to ignore the fact that airline labor costs will be half that of fuel in 2008. In addition, he called for binding arbitration that would strip workers of their right to strike—their strongest leverage to protect themselves from being exploited by management.

However, ALPA did agree with two points Crandall made to the audience. Some measure of regulation must be introduced to stabilize the industry and bankruptcy law must be reformed. Congress must not continue to allow airline management to exploit the bankruptcy process to gut employee contracts, prevent workers from striking, and reward themselves with multi-million-dollar bonuses.

While Crandall’s remarks received little attention from the news media, ALPA pressed for an accurate reporting of the facts in the limited coverage that did appear, including through a letter to the editor submitted to Aviation Daily.