Why you should care about American Airlines employees

Why you should care about American Airlines employees

I’m Making it My Business

I recently became “involved” in the labor issues at American when I posted one of my Aluminum Lady videos which addressed the tentative agreement (TA) being put to a vote by the flight attendants at American Airlines. My employment ended with American in 2012 and I should be enjoying being out of such a tough industry. However, I still feel like part of the AA family and can’t help but follow and support those who’ve worked so hard to make the airline successful.

Although the video was comical, the topic is anything but funny

Just in case you have not seen it, the video was a movie trailer parody aptly titled “Tentative Agreement”.

Some may say I stuck my nose where it didn’t belong. It actually felt that way a bit to me as well; especially after someone mentioned my video may have played a role in the tentative agreement being voted down.

I felt that what I was watching happen to the flight attendants at AA was tragically unjust and clearly due to a serious lack of leadership from their top union official. Unfortunately, this can happen to anyone who works for a living and everyone should at least be aware of what is occurring here.

In a Nutshell

The problems started when American Airlines declared bankruptcy and Laura Gladding, president of the union which represents American’s flight attendants — APFA — began working behind the scenes with US Airways President, Doug Parker, to craft an agreement which would ease a potential merger with American. Well intentioned as it may have been, Ms. Gladding put her membership in an extremely vulnerable position as she clearly became a victim to an illusion that her meetings and negotiations were in any way beneficial to those who elected her to represent them. She was a nursing assistant attempting to outdo a team of skilled surgeons; yet she was blinded by the light.

Laura Glading as portrayed in "Tentative Agreement" parody

Laura Glading as portrayed in “Tentative Agreement” parody

Ms. Glading was so confident in her “special relationship” with management that she signed onto a bevy of constraints contained in agreements and side-letters that eliminated any room for negotiations then or down the line. Further, she convinced everyone around her that she had the situation well under control and to stay silent if not on their own then bound by signed confidentiality agreements and policies.

The flight attendants accepted the resulting working agreement after being convinced they had no other options. The truth was they did; they were just signed away by the very people they wanted to trust.

FORBES: Why Employees Loathe Management at American Airlines

AFA- US AIRWAYS UNION: Warns of problems with APFA strategy

When she presented a TA (tentative agreement) to her membership for a vote, her members had one of two choices:


Accept an inferior agreement and, knowingly or not, assist Laura Glading and the APFA with covering up years of secrecy and errors. At the same time, they knew what they were getting  with the TA and could possibly avoid additional unpleasantness.


Reject an inferior agreement and leave it up to mediation and even binding arbitration. But, keep reading…

Like it or not; there is a next part

The no vote has further uncovered what Laura Glading did not want exposed. The truth is that the entire foundation that the tentative agreement is built on is not only egregiously flawed, it must be undone and negotiations restarted with a clean slate and on a level playing field with qualified, skilled negotiators; absent the personal agenda of an inappropriately aspirational union president.

She recently stated in a letter to her membership that she was “devastated” that the agreement was not accepted. I suspect she is even more shattered over the fact that she will soon have to face the music.

“I have been pushing for mediation and the possibility of discussing any and all possible relief but the company will only agree to meet to discuss arbitration protocol,” Laura Glading said in a letter

If you were American Airlines and were dealing with someone representing employees that had always been willing to “roll over” would you feel the need to bargain fairly now? Probably not if you were their kind of thinker.

DALLAS NEWS: APFA’s Glading repeats: American Airlines says it won’t give us anything more

Instead of seeing to getting her union and her membership on the right track, she has stayed busy distributing information to the media supporting her position and amplifying anger towards those who voted down the scheme. What she is not telling the media is that the workers had actually voted against the atrocities that her action or inaction facilitated. Fortunately for Laura Glading, there are those in media who speak her language.

Holly Hedgeman of had a lot to say after the vote results. She was recently honored at the APFA 2014 Convention for her help during the contract talks

Holly Hedgeman of had a lot to say after the vote results. She was recently honored at the APFA 2014 Convention for her help during the contract talks

BLOG: Cranky Flier explains why he thinks AA flight attendants “screwed themselves”

In order for things to be done right; there has to be a complete “cleaning of the house”. This is something Fabreeze cannot fix. It’s not easy and it’s definitely not going to be pleasant, but what is the alternative? For the flight attendants of American Airlines, there have been enough years of anger, resentment and frustration. It is time for everyone to come together and focus on one goal; to have the right representation craft the right agreement with American Airlines. American’s management needs to follow Delta’s lead and invest in their people. Delta has shown how the results justify the practice.

NEWS: Delta announces $1.6 billion profit including $384 million profit sharing expense

The people who truly keep American flying deserve nothing less.

More to come…..



Gailen David is co-host of the nationally syndicated travel talk show, "The Jet Set" with over 1.8M weekly viewers in over 200 television markets in 12 countries. A former flight attendant, he leads a global discussion about "Jetiquette", the rules or code of civilized travel. Gailen is a frequent contributor to CNN, HLN and USA Today on topics related to the airline travel experience and of course, Jetiquette. Visit Gailen's website

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