When the airline industry went into a deep slump after the 2001 terrorist attacks, American Airlines' pilots, flight attendants and mechanics agreed to billions of dollars in cuts in wages and benefits to keep the carrier afloat. American’s 18,000 attendants took an across-the-board 16% pay cut and gave up vacation days.
Now the airline industry is back. Passenger traffic and fares are up. The industry netted a cool $2 billion in profits last year. So American Airlines plans to reward almost 1000 top executives (how can you even have 1000 top executives?) with more than $180 million in bonuses.
Business Week brags: “Since September 11, 2001 the airlines have done a tremendous job of cutting employee costs. Four of the largest carriers declared bankruptcy, allowing them to break labor contracts and hand over pension liabilities to the federal government.”
Airline executives are being celebrated for cutting the pay of its pilots, mechanics and attendants, breaking contracts, reneging on retirement benefits and shifting the responsibility to the American taxpayer! Gordon Gekko is alive and well!
Since when did people who break promises and shirk responsibility become heroes?
And for those who like to pretend that this is all just posturing because executive compensation is too small to make a difference, do the math!
$180 million split among 57,000 workers is....$3,123 each. $3 grand may be chump change for the new robber barons running American Airlines, but it would make a real difference in the lives of the company's flight attendants.