ASSOCIATION ACCUSES AMERICAN AIRLINES OF HARASSMENT AGAINST PILOTS WHO
VOICE SAFETY CONCERNS
Fort Worth, TX (April 2, 2002) - The Allied Pilots Association
(APA) strongly believes that American Airlines (NYSE: AMR) is discriminating
against and harassing pilots who are critical of American's commitment
to safety. The issues include American's safety record, pilot fatigue,
security, regulatory compliance, and the unexplained crash of an Airbus
A300. Recently, several APA officials were subjected to "investigative
hearings" convened by flight department managers who objected to
the union representatives wearing of their pilot uniforms during media
"American's focus on our uniforms is nothing more
than an attempt to intimidate our representatives and silence our safety
concerns," said Captain John Darrah, APA President. "It will
only serve to undermine prospects for an improved relationship with
American Airlines' pilots have a decades-long history
of wearing their pilot uniforms in a wide variety of situations such
as speaking with the news media, negotiating with management, lobbying
elected officials, and attending other high-profile events such as weddings
and funerals. In legal parlance, the effect of "past practice"
overrides the applicability of any published rule unless APA and American
Airlines agree to change the status quo during contract negotiations.
Captain Rich Rubin, a 22-year veteran of American Airlines
and chairman of APA's Flight Time/Duty Time Committee, has been one
of the airline's most vocal critics. Last summer, Captain Rubin filed
a Whistleblower complaint with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
and the Department of Labor (DOL). His complaint alleged that American
was manipulating flight schedules to avoid an FAA requirement to add
relief pilots on flights to Hawaii, and that he was receiving harassment
and threats from American in retaliation for voicing concerns.
American Airlines agreed to a settlement on January
17, 2002 after the DOL concluded its investigation. The terms of the
settlement required American to display copies of the FAA's Whistleblower
Program poster on employee bulletin boards and to send Captain Rubin
a letter that affirmed the rights of all of the carrier's pilots to
voice safety concerns without repercussion.
On January 18, 2002, Captain Rubin and two other pilots
protested outside the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington while the
court considered an airline industry lawsuit to block strict rules on
limiting a pilot's workday to 16 hours. Subsequently, Captain Rubin
was instructed to attend an investigative hearing at the Miami flight
office for appearing in uniform. He then received a formal notice that
a Permanent Discussion Record marked DO NOT REMOVE was being placed
in his personnel file.
Captain Sam Mayer is the Vice Chairman of the union's
New York Domicile and Chairman of APA's Communications Committee. Last
month Captain Mayer received a notice from American Airlines that a
letter of discipline was being placed in his personnel file because
he had appeared in uniform during a television interview about the crash
of AA Flight 587.
"It is truly a sorry state of affairs when our
pilots are being subject to discipline for speaking out about their
very real safety concerns for our passengers and our crews," said
Captain Mayer. "If American Airlines truly had the commitment to
safety that they claim, their time would be better spent developing
inspection methods for carbon fiber composites, instead of disciplining
their pilots for appearing on television in uniform."
"Our voice concerning safety issues at American
Airlines will not be silenced by discrimination, threats, or the unfair
prosecution of our representatives," said Captain Darrah. "American
Airlines should focus on fixing the problems, instead of attempting
to silence the messengers."
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