Unions Pressuring Airlines on Bonuses

Workers who took pay cuts during industry's slump are furious about rewards for executives.

"It's not that big, but it does set the tone for how these managers are bringing the company through a challenging time," Pedrotty said. "What gets the employees angry is the hypocrisy. [The executives] think bonuses are too expensive -- except for them."

Delta Air Lines Inc. stands in contrast. Its chief executive, Gerald Grinstein, has refused to take any extra cash, stock awards, stock options or a pay raise. And Grinstein cut his salary in half during the carrier's bankruptcy proceedings, to $338,000 a year, among the lowest for any major U.S. corporation.

Delta's relations with employees are fairly smooth. But at American, tensions are escalating.

On Thursday, American sent letters to its unions warning them not to disrupt operations or otherwise violate federal laws that govern relations between airlines and their workers.

The letter angered some union members.

"We've never been disruptive, never unprofessional," said John Nikides, a 23-year veteran who chairs the flight attendant union's Los Angeles chapter. "It sounds like a tactic on their part to portray us as merely disgruntled employees."

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