Flight attendants, pilots and a larger than life-sized puppet of US Airways CEO Doug Parker picketed in front of the company’s Tempe headquarters today.
Employees of the former America West Airlines and the old East Coast-based US Airways, which agreed to merge in September, 2005, are fighting for a joint contract that would boost pay and benefits.
“We want to make sure management understands we want to be a successful part of the merger,” said Gary Richardson, who heads up the America West flight attendants
On the other side of the office wall, Parker said he has already offered to bring all the union workers to the best of the America West or US Airways contracts.
Two groups — dispatch and passenger service workers — have signed on. Four, including the pilots and flight attendants, want a new and better deal.
Parker said giving just the pilots what they want would cost the airline an additional $400 million a year.
“We are being asked at the negotiating table to do something that would make us un-competitive,” Parker said.
Nevertheless, Parker said he’s optimistic the negotiations could be done before year end.
And if not, the merger can be completed without working out new joint labor contracts, he said.
Pilot leader Tania Bziukiewicz disagreed.
“We can’t be a successful carrier until the airline puts us together,” she said.
The airline isn’t putting enough of its resources into making the merger successful, Richardson said.
He pointed to recent snafus caused by integration of Web sites and reservations systems. Richardson said the front-line workers are getting customer feedback, and it isn’t good.
“It’s hurting our business,’’ he said. “The company needs to treat its employees with respect and treat its passengers with respect.”