When we launched this column a couple of weeks ago, I expected readers to respond with strong opinions. So it’s no surprise that many, including employees, offered their views – and a few just vented. That’s OK because, as a company, the only way we’re going to come to terms with all the issues is to get them out in the open and let the debate roll.Here’s a sampling of what readers had to say about negotiations:
- AA is “dragging its feet” in contract talks
- The unions are too radical in their approach to negotiations
- The unions are too timid in their approach to negotiations
- The company is too stubborn in its approach to negotiations
- Executives are overpaid and union members underpaid
- Employees should get back everything they gave up in 2003, no matter what other airlines pay their employees
- AA employees should be grateful for what they have and stop whining
Don’t get me wrong. A lot of readers, including employees, had good things to say about the company and many of the things going on around AA.
But I get it that others are frustrated and anxious about the economy, about contract negotiations and about all the uncertainty in the industry overall. The airline industry has changed and, in the opinion of many, not for the better. It’s not the same market it was in 2001 and it’s certainly not the same market it was in 1993.
The best thing we can do for this company and its employees is to be realistic about the challenges we face today and the market we’ll be flying in the future.
In terms of negotiations, it’s part of my job to make sure that we come to agreements on contracts that make financial and practical sense. That means paying employees appropriately for their experience, skills and efforts, but not at the expense of sound economics and the best interests of all AA stakeholders.
Yes, there are win-win solutions. But we’ve got to work together to find them. “Compete to Win” isn’t just a nice corporate slogan. It’s the only way we’ll get there.
Thanks to all that took the time to write in and please keep reading. We’ll talk about the pace of negotiations, the varied interests of each employee group and, yes, how we pay executives. And keep your comments coming.
PS: I will be sharing some of your responses with readers going forward, but will consider them private unless you let me know I can use your name.