Unions Shocked By American Airlines' Proposed Cuts

American Airlines is looking to cut 13,000 jobs as part of a restructuring. The company — which is in bankruptcy — also wants to reduce costs by 20 percent and end its pension plan.

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NPR's business news starts with big layoffs at American Airlines.


MONTAGNE: Yesterday, American Airlines announced it wants to eliminate at least 13,000 jobs. The carrier went into bankruptcy last November, and cuts have been expected. But the depth of these proposed cuts has caught workers and unions off-guard, as NPR's Wade Goodwyn reports.

WADE GOODWYN, BYLINE: American wants to cut its costs by 20 percent, and most of the savings will come at the expense of the company's workers - 400 pilots, 4,600 mechanics, 2,300 flight attendants and 4,000 transport workers would all be cut, and benefits for remaining workers would be significantly scaled back. [POST-BROADCAST CLARIFICATION: This listing of jobs that would be eliminated is not comprehensive.]

Jeff Brundage, senior vice president for Human Resources at American, wrote in a letter to workers: After losing $10 billion over the last 10 years, and financing those losses with debt, we must now prove to our creditors and the court that we can implement significant cost reductions.

For the thousands who will lose their jobs, and the tens of thousands who will suffer having their benefits cut yet again, this is a frightening moment.

James Little is the president of the Transport Workers Union. Nearly 9,000 of his 26,000 workers at American are scheduled to lose their jobs.

JAMES LITTLE: Tremendously shocked by the depth of the cuts they're talking about - not just freezing the pension plan, but the elimination of a pension plan, and the elimination of all retiree medical.

GOODWYN: It's possible that this process will end up in court, but American Airlines must first negotiate.

Wade Goodwyn NPR News, Dallas.

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