CEO's $9 Million Gain Irks Unions

Unions for US Airways flight attendants and pilots, who are engaged in contract talks, reacted angrily Monday to CEO Doug Parker making $9 million on stock options last week.

The US Airways' units of both the Association of Flight Attendants and the Air Line Pilots Association complained that Parker profited from the merger while long maintaining that labor negotiations need to produce contracts that won't raise the airline's costs.

"What galls me about Doug Parker cashing in these options is that he never could have done this if (labor) didn't take huge concessions to keep US Airways afloat and attract all those investors," said Mike Flores, president of the US Airways flight-attendants union.

While operating in bankruptcy last year, US Airways obtained $565 million in capital from investors supporting its merger with America West in September. Meantime, US Airways flight attendants gave up $154 million a year in concessions, including an 8.5 percent wage cut. In a letter to Parker yesterday, Flores called the merger "a windfall for a select few."

Parker received $8.99 million before taxes last week by exercising stock options granted years ago by America West. He acquired 272,250 shares of the new US Airways stock at bargain prices on Aug. 1 and 2, then immediately sold them at much higher prices on the market, which has bid up US Airways since the merger.

Securities documents show 24,750 of the 272,250 options would expire Oct. 28, and the rest would not have expired until January 2012 at the earliest.

Pilots and flight attendants are in the early stages of negotiating new contracts with the merged airline and have yet to discuss the more difficult issues of wages and benefits.

"Senior executives rake in loads of cash, while telling everyone that they can't afford anything for the pilots during our negotiations that isn't 'cost-neutral,'" said a message to members from Jack Stephan, chairman of the US Airways pilots union.

Further irking Flores was US Airways' plan to give 3 percent merit raises to the airlines' 2,600 nonunion employees this fall. Yet, flight attendants' wages don't rise back up to their 2004 levels until 2012, when the current contract becomes amendable.

"We'll negotiate with them as long as it takes," said Flores, "but we won't back down."

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