Growing up as a child in Florida, my parents did, what I think was a commendable job of teaching my brother and I the difference between right and wrong.
I was taught that personal gain at the expense of others was wrong and this was a basic tenant of life, which was inculcated into my psyche at a tender age.
As my education progressed, I would learn that this concept of right and wrong was grounded in the writings of classical orators such and Cicero of the Roman Empire. And one of the corner stones of his philosophy was summed up in the following passage:
"It is natural enough for man to prefer earning a living for himself rather that for someone else – granted; but what nature forbids is that we should increase our means, property and resources by plundering other."
Cicero lived over two thousand years ago, but this idea of right and wrong has not changed and in fact, has become a globally accepted principal for the conduct of modern life.
I have been and employee for Trans World Airlines for over 14 years. On December 1, 2001, my airline will be relegated to the annals of history, as its purchase by American Airlines will be complete. With American’s purchase of TWA – assets along with a promise of employment to our employees – hope will once again spring eternal as we relish the opportunity to become valued members of the American team. And in a seminal moment, American even took the benevolent step of extending health, dental and travel privileges to our retired employees.
Unfortunately, this same corporate largess did not extend to the various groups that represent the employees of American Airlines – which were given the responsibility of deciding how the TWA employees would integrate into the American family.
Instead, this self-indulgent group has decided to feast on the carrion of TWA. Like hyena’s clamoring for a free meal, this feeding frenzy has come at a very high price for the employees of TWA. At a vastly disproportionate rate to AMR employees, TWA employees are finding themselves in the nations swelling un-employment lines. Crew bases on the East and West Coasts have been closed so as to mitigate job losses at American, forcing these employees to either move to St Louis or quit (Not a very palatable choice for 58 year old employees).
Seniority, the Holy Grail of career determination, has been cast aside with Faustian malevolence. And unfortunately, American is held hostage by a self-absorbed and radical element. These renegades resemble the classic spoiled child that stamps it’s feet up and down, bangs his fists on the wall and holds its breath until his face turns red – complete with bulging veins in the neck and all – all this if his way is not had. The only difference is, this spoiled child wears a pilot uniforms, makes upwards of $200,000 dollars a year and is at the controls of $100 million dollar aircraft.
Take, for example, the ten-day pilot sick-out that started on February 6, 1999, that caused the cancellation of over 6,000 flights, 600,000 passengers missing flights and a estimated loss to American Airlines of over $50 million dollars.
This radical element consisting of some 2,500 of the more than 9,400 hundred pilots of American, even went as far as defying a US District Courts "back to work" order, thumbing their collective noses as they were held in contempt of court.
Well, its small wonder that American continually caves to the extortionistic demands of its unions, no matter how despotic and Machiavellian they may be.
So, what merited such action on the part of American pilots? Simply stated, they didn’t like the time frame in which a very small airline with 18 jets and a couple hundred pilots were transitioned to AMR pay scales. This single act was justification for the unconscionable and grossly selfish act of literally shutting down one of the nations largest companies and inconveniencing hundreds of thousands of passengers.
And now the 20,000 employees of TWA will be on the receiving end of this hegemonic master. They [American Employees] will again do as they have in the past, advancement of their own lot in life built upon the backs of the less fortunate – the very thing that civilized people learned was wrong as children.