American Airlines pilots discuss work slowdowns

The Fort Worth Star-TelegramMarch 4, 2009 

Thousands of American Airlines pilots gathered Tuesday to strategize about work slowdowns and other headaches that they might inflict on airline management if contact talks reach a breaking point.

The Allied Pilots Association held meetings at nine union chapters nationwide, briefing members on steps that may be taken if the National Mediation Board declares contract talks to be at an impasse. Union leaders said about 2,000 pilots attended nationwide.

The union is unlikely to call for a traditional strike, a move that could force American into bankruptcy. Rather, union leaders said they would rely on smaller, targeted job actions that could cause delays and cancellations without shutting down the airline.

"It's something that would be the equivalent of a big thunderstorm rolling into D/FW Airport," said Scott Shankland, a union spokesman. "It might take three or four hours, but passengers would still get to their destinations."

For example, pilots on a certain route or flying from a particular airport might show up several hours late, Shankland said.

He stressed that the union would only authorize legal actions and that the focus of a slowdown would be airline management, not passengers.

Joe Prem, a pilot based at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, was one who attended a meeting at the airport’s Hyatt Regency Hotel.

"The lack of progress on the contract has been incredibly frustrating," Prem said.

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