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Pilots and American Airlines Sign Contract

February 27, 1991

GRAPEVINE, Texas (AP) _ American Airlines pilots union ratified a four-year contract that will make some of its members the best-paid in the industry and ends months of bitter negotiations.

The directors of the Allied Pilots Association approved the deal 18-2 late Tuesday, after two days of meetings. Two directors abstained and one didn’t vote because he is serving in the Persian Gulf War.

There is no rank-and-file vote.

Both sides said they would work to resolve hostility lingering from the busy December holidays, when many of American’s 8,800 pilots called in sick. The company accused pilots of staging an illegal sick-out, but the union said pilots were wrongly blamed for bad weather and poor scheduling. More than 1,000 flights were canceled over five days.

Negotiations began 16 months ago, before the old contract expired Jan. 1, 1990. The two sides tentatively agreed this Jan. 26 on the new contract.

In general, the pilots will receive an immediate 8 percent pay raise, followed by 4 percent increases on Aug. 31, 1991, 1992 and 1993. For pilots in their sixth, seventh or eighth years with American, the pay increase is much larger because the contract reduces the time it takes to reach the highest pay scale to six years.

The average crew member will earn $110,000, with the highest-paid Boeing 747 captains earning nearly $190,000 a year by the end of the contract, the best pay in the industry.

The contract will increase American’s cockpit costs more than $1 billion over the four years.

The pact, reached with the help of a federal mediator, leaves some health benefit issues and a handful of others to binding arbitration.

″Together the APA leadership and the company are going to have to listen to each other more. We’re going to have to work harder at all the subjects that come before us,″ said Rober Baker, American executive vice president of operations.

He said the pilots would not be ″coddled″ or receive favored treatment over other American employees.

″The healing process will not be immediate,″ union spokesman Bill Walters said. ″The healing process will begin and it will eventually be complete.″

Walters said the union would like the company to place conciliatory newspaper advertisements to make up for ads blaming the pilots for holiday flight cancellations, but Baker said the airline would not do that.

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