By Glenn Pew, Contributing Editor, Video Editor
Since the mid-2000s airline workers have given up more than $12 billion in contract concessions, according to The New York Times, and now, as a reaction to very strong third-quarter earnings reports, those workers are looking for payback. Sara Nelson, a spokeswoman for the Association of Flight Attendants, told the Times, "Executives reaped millions in bonuses paid for with the sacrifices of frontline workers." Now, says Nelson, the "excuses are all dried up" and "payment to workers is long overdue." Speaking for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, Robert Roach Jr. said, "It is time carriers recognize it was the employees who saved many airlines" and that management "must recognize that contribution -- not by words, but by deeds." With contract negotiations on the horizon for many carriers, analysts have their eyes on one that could set the stage.
Some analysts expect contract negotiations that will follow the United and Continental mega-merger to set precedent for negotiations at the other airlines. The nation's top carriers showed third-quarter earnings of more than $2.5 billion and charted a trajectory toward profitability for the first time since 2007. The negative figures include estimates of $60 billion in industry-wide losses over the past decade and estimates that the industry's workforce fell from more than 575,000 in 2001 to about 380,000 today.