- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 5, 2003

FORT WORTH, Texas, March 5 (UPI) — American Airlines said Wednesday that talks continue with union leaders for its mechanics and ground workers despite their rejection of the airline's initial proposal for wage and benefit concessions.

The Transport Workers Union rejected American's request for $620 million in givebacks from its 33,000 members, part of the $1.8 billion in concessions the airline has sought since early February from its three major unions.

Jim Little, the TWU's international administrative vice president, said the union's analysis of American's financial condition did not agree with figures in the airline's proposal.

"Our consultants and advisers have concluded that the company does need relief, but have not yet confirmed the specific amount," he wrote in a message to members.

Little said the proposal was returned to the company and union leaders would stand ready to consider any new response from American.

American officials viewed the rejection as another step in the negotiation process.

"Our proposal was not intended as a take-it-or-leave-it matter," said American spokesman Bruce Hicks. "It expressed our view as to the sorts of modifications necessary to avoid bankruptcy. The union has stated it was prepared to work with us in good faith to accomplish this objective. We believe they are sincere and we intend to continue to work with them."

Hicks said concession talks are continuing with the Allied Pilots Association, which represents the airline's 13,500 pilots. Meetings have not been scheduled yet with the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, which represents 25,000 members.

All three unions, which represent more than two-thirds of American's 100,000 employees, have said they believe some cuts are necessary to save the world's largest airline and they have expressed a willingness to consider concessions.

In February, American asked for permanent concessions totaling $660 million from pilots, $620 million from ground workers, $340 million from flight attendants, $80 million from ticket agents, and $100 million from management.

AMR, American's parent company, lost $3.5 billion last year and $1.8 billion in 2001.

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