American Airlines, Unions Meet With Federal Mediators

APFA calls for American Airlines to honor pension obligations for its workers

Federal mediators sat down with American Airlines representatives and the heads of its three major unions on Thursday, on the same day the Wall Street Journal reported that Delta Air Lines and buyout firm TPG were separately looking at bidding for the airline's parent, AMR Corp.

The meeting between the Allied Pilots Association, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants and the Transportation Workers Unions at American's headquarters in Fort Worth were to give the National Mediation Board an update on the status of labor talks with the carrier.

On Thursday, the APFA released a statement calling for American to honor its pension obligations.

Mark Ralston, a Dallas bankruptcy attorney who is not involved in American's case, said he doesn't believe the airline will honor those obligations.

"Its pension fund is underfunded by $10 billion," he said. "To me, there is no incentive I can think of why American would assume that obligation and come out of bankruptcy $10 billion in debt."

In other, similar cases, legacy carriers have not stuck to their pension agreements, Ralston said.

Union leaders say uncertainty about the future is a chief concern.

"In bankruptcy, there is no secret, the workers pay the heftiest price, " said Darrin Pierce, president of Transportation Workers Union Local 513.

Pierce said he hopes American can return to profitability after bankruptcy reorganization and keep his union members employed.

There is still no change in the day-to-day operations of the airline for passengers.

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