St. Louis isn't going to close. Yes, several hundred TWA f/a's will probably be laid off. Meanwhile, those TWA f/a's remaining in St. Louis will continue to enjoy their bidding seniority as long as they remain based in St. Louis, and they will continue to enjoy the vastly improved pay scale and benefits they received when TWA was aquired by AA. I hate seeing anyone laid off, but it seems like AA and APFA have been pretty generous considering they could have just aquired the assets and given the employees absolutely nothing except either a pink slip or zero seniority. And imagine if AA hadn't bought TWA. Does anyone seriously think they would be around flying post-9/11, considering they couldn't even manage a profit in any quarter during the boom years of the late-90's? Everyone at TWA would be looking for work...
From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
About 900 American Airlines flight attendants based in St. Louis will get layoff notices in the coming days.
But the final layoff tally will depend on how many of their peers across American's system take voluntarily leaves of absence or share jobs, said Greg Bertolini, the St. Louis chairman of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, or the APFA.
That was the message relayed Tuesday to about 250 employees who attended a union meeting at the St. Louis Airport Hilton to learn more about their fate. Many of the former TWA Airlines LLC flight attendants expressed disbelief, even disgust, at the prospect of losing their jobs to some American employees with a fraction of their years of experience.
"I feel like (the APFA has) punished us for having been acquired rather than merged," said Stacey Van Laanen, a 29-year veteran.
Other former TWA flight attendants, however, said the voluntary leaves were a good alternative to layoffs because they keep all their benefits and can work elsewhere.
The union, which represents about 27,000 employees at American, is hoping many of its members will take voluntarily leaves, saving most -- if not all -- of the St. Louis-based employees' jobs, said George Price, the APFA's national communications coordinator. He said negotiations continue between the union and the Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier to ease the impact of a 9 percent systemwide schedule reduction on St. Louis-based flight attendants, most of whom worked for TWA before most of the airline's assets were acquired last year by American.
As it stands, no flight attendant hired by American before April 10, 2001, is in jeopardy of being furloughed when layoffs begin in October, Price said. That's because the APFA will merge its seniority list with TWA Airlines LLC on Oct. 1. The move will put all 3,180 active former TWA flight attendants at the bottom of a new seniority list, just ahead of 159 flight attendants who were hired by American after April 10, 2001.
The new list positions the St. Louis-based flight attendants to take the brunt - about 2,391 furloughs - of the 2,550 layoffs that could result from American's latest restructuring to cut costs. Furloughed employees receive pay and benefits for 90 days. Thereafter, a federally mandated continuation of health benefits - paid for by the furloughed employees - remains in effect for 18 months.
But the layoffs among flight attendants based here will not exceed 900 because a larger cutback would leave the airline with fewer workers than it needs to operate flights, American spokeswoman Julia Bishop-Cross said. Though former TWA employees are being trained to fly American airplanes, American flight attendants must wait until the TWA airplanes are reconfigured before they can staff those airplanes under American's operating certificate. Bishop-Cross said plans call for the changes to begin next summer.
Under that scenario, American could end up with more flight attendants than it needs throughout its system, assuming enough flight attendants don't take the voluntary leaves. That's because the airline can't furlough American employees who are senior to former TWA employees. "If we do not get enough overage leaves to get to that 900 number, we will simply have to operate with more flight attendants than needed throughout the system," Bishop-Cross said.
Neither the airline nor the APFA believes that will be necessary because of the previous popularity of overage leaves. Flight attendants who take voluntary leaves won't be paid, but they will continue to receive other benefits of an active employee, including medical benefits and flying privileges.
"This is very attractive to a lot of folks," Price said of the benefit that will be offered for 12 months. "We will be encouraging people who can afford to take this leave to do so. We don't want people on the street." Still, many former TWA flight attendants said they continue to feel vulnerable, even betrayed, by a union some say isn't looking out for their interests.
"It's hard to have gone through everything we have at TWA to be in this position now," Van Laanen said. "When they acquired us, they required us to give up our (arbitration rights). I feel like we were set up."
Reporter Cynthia Wilson: E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org