HARRISBURG, Nov. 20, 2012 – State Sen. Christine M. Tartaglione is urging US Air to settle long-stalled contract talks with its current workers before closing a merger with American Airlines.
In a letter to Douglas Parker, CEO of US Airlines Group, Tartaglione said pursuing a merger before settling with its own workers would make it more difficult to reach long-term stability.
“If a merger between U.S. Airways and American Airlines comes to fruition, we worry that your current labor problems will be compounded, making the ratification of new U.S. Airways’ labor contracts even more unlikely,” Tartaglione wrote. “This will put further distance between your employees and the new contracts they both desire and deserve.”
Three principle unions at US Air have been working without a new contract since the airline’s 2005 merger with America West, a period that has brought the airline record profits. US Air stock doubled in price this year.
In pursuit of a merger with American Airlines, which would create the world’s largest air carrier, US Air reached preemptory labor agreements with three of American’s unions in April, while its current labor force continues to seek an agreement.
“It concerns us that you were able to swiftly negotiate with another airline’s unions, while at the same time neglecting the mounting labor issues within your own organization,” Tartaglione wrote. “This leads us to believe that you place more of a priority on a merger than on the wellbeing of your own employees.”
Tartaglione, the Democratic Chair of the Senate Labor and Industry Committee, was joined on the letter by state Rep. William Keller, the Democratic Chair of the House Labor and Industry Committee.
News outlets have reported that parties involved in a possible merger – the airlines, American’s creditors, and the unsecured creditor committee have met recently to negotiate the details.
US Air is a major employer in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania has invested hundreds of millions of dollars to retain those jobs, including $264 million in lease concessions at Pittsburgh International Airport to help US Air emerge from bankruptcy in 2003.