Dear Ms. Kidman
As flight attendants with American Airlines, we would like to personally apologize to you for the behavior displayed by our union president, Laura Glading, this past week. Ms. Glading’s attack on your character as a contract spokesperson for Etihad Airways is unwarranted and unjustified.
Please know Ms. Kidman that this media mishap has little to do with you as a spokesperson and everything to do with the fact that American Airlines, Delta Airlines and United Airlines (the “Big Three'”) are asking the United States government to amend the “Open Skies” agreement in an effort to limit Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways and Emirates’ (the “Gulf airlines”) access to the U.S. Market. As you may have read, the Big Three allege that the Gulf airlines have an unfair advantage because of government subsidies. This rift is now exacerbated by the Gulf airlines’ allegations that the Big Three (1) use bankruptcy as a means of dumping employee obligations on taxpayers, (2) accept government bailouts to shore up the bottom line, (3) accept state fuel tax exemptions, and (4) accept interest-free loans to further expand. The question the media is asking now is how the Gulf airlines’ subsidies are different than those of the Big Three. It’s like the pot calling the kettle charcoal-gray.
Where this all ties together, Ms. Kidman, is the fact that flight attendants at American recently rejected a post-bankruptcy contract after it was discovered that the agreement was negotiated at a secret dinner meeting hosted by Laura Glading’s cousin, Tom Weir, who just so happened to be a senior executive with U.S. Airways and now American Airlines Group. Yes, rather than negotiating with Tom Horton, the CEO of American Airlines, Ms. Glading was secretly negotiating with Doug Parker, the CEO of U.S. Airways (a non-employer), knowing full-well that the CEOs of both airlines were in the midst of merger talks already. When flight attendants failed to ratify their latest contract by 16 votes, Ms. Glading allowed Mr. Parker to force the agreement on the flight attendants anyway. This has left flight attendants with just two options: suck it up and live with it, or find a lawyer who will challenge it in court. Flight attendants did ask the Department of Justice, the National Mediation Board and the National Labor Relations Board to look into it, but all three were uninterested.
It’s important to state here that this is the second contract in eleven years that has been forced on the flight attendants at American against their NO vote. For Laura Glading to suggest that Gulf airline employees have no “voice” because they don’t have labor unions is hypocritical when you consider that a NO vote means YES here at American under the union representation of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA).
In summary, what we have now, Ms. Kidman, is a lame-duck president who is grasping at straws in an effort to rebuild her image so as to prepare herself for a post-APFA career come 2016. What Ms. Glading is doing is using union resources (the union’s PR firm, O’Neill and Associates) to create media rhetoric that will boost her image and hopefully open up some opportunities before she leaves office. Given the shenanigans surrounding Ms. Glading’s failed labor agreement, her options within the labor movement are limited at best. Her attack on you is aimed solely at opening doors in Washington and has little to do with the rights of flight attendants employed by foreign carriers.
We hope you can accept our apology.