American Airlines union voices opposition to executive bonuses

Several hundred American Airlines ground workers gathered outside the company's Fort Worth headquarters Tuesday to protest bonuses scheduled to be paid to top executives and managers this week.

The demonstrators, members of the Transport Workers Union, tore, crushed and burned large novelty checks to chants of "cancel executive checks."

"We're tired of the corporate greed at American Airlines," said Juan Torres, an American mechanic based at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport.

Workers from Tulsa, New York and Miami attended the protest, said John Conley, director of the union's air-transport division. "They've taken a select group and given them a reward that the rest of us don't have any access to," Conley said.

The union has attacked the bonuses in a nationwide advertising campaign and has mocked American executives on an Internet site with a petition urging the airline to cancel the payments.

The TWU, which represents about 26,000 mechanics, fleet-service clerks, dispatchers and other employees, is in contract talks with American. Labor leaders hope to restore wages lost in concessions six years ago. Workers' salaries and benefits were cut by an average of 26 percent in 2003, which helped keep American from filing for bankruptcy.

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