AA Workers Protest Executive Payouts

Tuesday, Apr 14, 2009  |  Updated 7:43 PM CDT
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AA Workers Protest Executive Payouts

Between 200 to 300 transport union workers chanted and waved mock checks made out to airline executives.

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Hundreds of angry American Airlines union workers descended on the carrier's Fort Worth headquarters to protest executive stock options that are scheduled to be paid out Wednesday. 

At a time when American Airlines is losing money, the workers said no one should be getting stock option payouts.

Between 200 to 300 transport union workers chanted and waved mock checks made out to airline executives. They then tore up the placards, tossed them in the trash and set some of the mock checks on fire.

"The disappointment sets in when we continue to sacrifice, and over here on the sixth floor, the executives who run this company decide that, 'You guys continue to sacrifice, and we're going to pocket some of this money,'" said Darrin Pierce, one of the protesters.

But American executives said they don't see it that way. Their compensation is tied to the company's stock price, which is way down, said Jeff Brundage, of American Airlines.

"As a result, the people who participate in that program's compensation is going to be significantly reduced, and that's the way it's supposed to work," he said.

There is another issue here as well --  the Transport Workers Union wants a new contract with American.

"Some ask the question: 'Are they capable of getting an agreement?'" said John Connelly, of TWU. "We've gotten agreements at Southwest."

Brundage said the TWU has good negotiators. 

"They're at the table," he said. "They're working through the issues that need to be worked through."

There is common ground. Both sides agree that American Airlines must find a way to make money again.

Tuesday's protest came one day before American is set to report earnings, and analysts predicted the airline will turn in a big loss.

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