The union representing US Airways Flight Attendants came out swinging today, promising to fight efforts by the U.S. Department of Justice to block the merger of US Airways and American Airlines. The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO (AFA) vowed to defend the merger on behalf of Flight Attendants.
“The Justice Department seems to forget that American Airlines was mired in bankruptcy without a viable, stand-alone strategy when US Airways announced it would purchase, and merge with, American,” said Roger Holmin, AFA President at US Airways. “In the name of encouraging competition, DOJ is engaging in a fantasy that risks destroying the only merger that has a chance of competing with the nation’s other mega-carriers in order to protect consumers.”
US Airways Flight Attendants and other workers helped pull their airline out of the depths of bankruptcy through hard work and with life-changing sacrifices forced upon workers through that process. US Airways became a success story on Wall Street, yet frontline workers have yet to see a full return on their sacrifice and hard work. The merger promises new opportunities for these workers who have carried the airline industry restructuring on their backs. The story at American is even more dire for workers who, even as the industry has recovered, find themselves in the midst of bankruptcy today with little hope for a viable option for their airline without the merger approval. DOJ itself approved earlier mergers – United and Continental; Delta and Northwest – creating the number one and two airlines. The US Airways purchase of American would simply put American on par with these other airlines, creating real competition in the process and real opportunities for workers and the communities served by the merged airline.
“There is simply no justice in this attempt to block the merger. DOJ has missed the forest for the trees, worrying about the impact of the merger on individual markets,” said Holmin. “The government needs to recognize that real competition at the top of the airline industry turns on market share, size and scale. Communities served by the merged airline will gain countless opportunities for greater service across a massive network of routes. Without a strong competitor like the merged US Airways and American, United and Delta will only expand their market domination.”
US Airways’ merger proposal was poised for bankruptcy court approval in the American Chapter 11 case before DOJ filed suit to block the transaction. The merger has been widely hailed by airline analysts as the only viable option in the battle for market share to compete with carriers both large and small.
US Airways Flight Attendants worked through two bankruptcies and a merger with America West in the last decade, helping to rebuild their airline into an industry leader. The merger would provide job security and work opportunities for the combined Flight Attendant workforce. A recently ratified collective bargaining agreement at US Airways set the stage for single-contract negotiations in the wake of the merger with American – providing a positive outlook for airline workers for the first time in over a decade.
“We’re not going to stand for a misguided DOJ strategy that threatens to leave our American and American Eagle colleagues in limbo, languishing in bankruptcy,” Holmin continued. “Previously approved mega-mergers treated employees as an afterthought, or were used to destroy employee representation at work. This combination is the first one centered on the key role of the employees, and AFA won’t allow DOJ to deny our members and their families a positive outlook for the first time in over a decade. The twenty-five thousand US Airways and American Flight Attendants have more than earned the opportunity to share in the benefits of this merger.”
AFA vowed legal action and a massive mobilization campaign in support of the merger. “We won’t allow this war on workers to stand. We will compel our government to right this wrong – law makers and the White House will know the pain workers have endured and we will not rest until justice is served. The US Airways/American merger is right for our country and it is right for US Airways and American workers.” Holmin concluded.