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Thursday, February 14, 2013

American Airline Retirees Forced Into Obamacare So Airline Can Stop Paying Their Benefits?

By Susan Duclos

American Airline retirees are wondering where the media outrage is, as AA prepares to merge with U.S. Airways after filing bankruptcy almost a year and a half ago with two big goals - reduce debt, and clear pension obligations from the books, as competitors had done.

Via KERA News for North Texas:

"Instead of that, they’ve run way off into the weeds doing all sorts of indecisive things. At a time when American Airlines is petitioning the court to stop paying health care benefits to retirees, they’re also hiring fashion consultants for new uniforms. And they’re unnecessarily painting airplanes. When you’re telling retirees ‘we can’t pay health benefits’ and they’re going to spend $50,000 to $100,000 to paint each of 500 airplanes, that is outrageous.”

In a letter sent out to AA retirees on February 12, 2013, with the subject line "Important message re: your retiree medical benefits," they are being told "We, retired employees, will not, but are being told by AMR’s attorney that we can rely on Obamacare as a safety net...."

The full letter will be shown below the post.

The company has about 40,000 retirees.

The letter was sent out to AA retirees from The American Airlines Retirees Committee (AMRRC) which was formed by the retirees of American Airlines, for the retirees, to provide representation for all work groups at American Airlines past, present, or future

Letter forwarded from @whiteeagle9 shown below:

From: CA Jim Sovich <jgsovich@MSN.COM>
To: AA Retirees
Sent: Tue, February 12, 2013 5:33:08 PM
Subject: Important message re: your retiree medical benefits

My fellow retirees,

            AMR has been adamant that they have turned the corner on bankruptcy and are now solvent. Going forward they believe they have only tailwinds, even if it turns out to be a stand-alone plan. The logical merger with LCC (that is US Airways per the DOW) would prove even more positive and make AMR more profitable going forward.
            One basic precept in Chapter 11 is that changes in the bankruptcy process should only occur IF NECESSARY for reorganization. In addition, all groups must be treated, i.e. harmed, equally. We, retirees, are being told by AMR’s attorney in court that a 100% reduction in retiree benefits are effectively equal to the 15-17% reduction in contract or employment value that active employees gave up by agreement with AMR. This position taken by AMR about retirees is despite the fact that active employees will have the ability to improve benefits in future negotiations. We, retired employees, will not, but are being told by AMR’s attorney that we can rely on Obamacare as a safety net, despite any and all agreements made over many decades with AMR (previously only American Airlines). We, retired employees, are being informed by AMR’s attorneys in bankruptcy court that despite the conditions of employment we had, contracts agreed to over the years, and concessions made to avoid Chapter 11 in 2003, that no retired employee was really ever vested for retiree benefits and that a “modification” of a benefit down to zero company contribution is not the equivalent of elimination. You pay 100%, they pay 0%. This is simply a “modification” per AMR.

            It is time to get involved and speak up. Talk to your representatives and senators. Send messages to the White House. Talk to the media. Let your state representatives know that AMR plans to transfer retiree benefit costs to the taxpayers and Washington. Get them to get in line and talk to your congressional delegations. We are not asking for intervention or legislation. We are simply asking that they (our representatives in Washington and at home) demand that AMR complies with current bankruptcy law and that they not skirt longstanding commitments due retirees by hiding behind the Affordable Care Act. Write a letter, make a phone call, send an e-mail — do anything and everything. We have time to make this happen. It requires YOU!   
Captain Jim Sovich (RET)
Chairman, 1114 Committee

You can locate and contact your elected representatives by using the following the link:

More information can be found at The American Airlines Retirees Committee (AMRRC)