AA Pilots Picket at O'Hare

Those picketing volunteered their time to rally for new contract, improved working conditions

By Michelle Relerford and Natalie Martinez
|  Friday, Apr 5, 2013  |  Updated 12:36 PM CDT
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About 200 pilots picketed at O'Hare International Airport Thursday over a labor dispute as the airline reorganizes under bankruptcy protection. Natalie Martinez reports.

About 200 pilots picketed at O'Hare International Airport Thursday over a labor dispute as the airline reorganizes under bankruptcy protection. Natalie Martinez reports.

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About 200 American Airlines pilots picketed near O'Hare International Airport's Terminal 2 Monday over a labor dispute as the airline reorganizes under bankruptcy protection.

"In order to get that competitive network back again, we believe, like the Wall Street analysts believe, that American needs to be involved in the next airline merger. And our pilots believe that next airline merger should be with US Airways,' said Dennis Tajer with the Allied Pilots Association.

The union said American recently received bankruptcy court approval to reject the collective bargaining agreement between the airline and the pilots. That puts working conditions, compensation and retirement security at stake, they said, as the company works to cut costs by $1 billion.

"Our fellow pilots at Delta have moved the industry standard up and we intend on seeing a path to that industry standard going forward or this is just not going to work," said Tajer.

In a statement, the airline said its goal remains to reach a consensual agreement with the pilots.

Pilots throughout the network have been accused of calling in sick and forcing cancellations, but there was just one American Airlines cancellation at O'Hare on Thursday.

So far this month, 62 percent of American flights were on time, down from last September's on-time rate of 82 percent. This week the number was at 45 percent as of Tuesday.

To avoid inconveniences, American is canceling hundreds of flights this week and reducing its schedule through October. The airline advises passengers to check flight status online or call ahead before leaving for the airport. 

"I'm going to be optimistic that it will be fine," one passenger told NBC Chicago.

The APA represents 10,000 pilots who fly for the airline.

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