American Airlines Attendants Quit Cost-Cutting Talks

The airline and its three biggest labor groups began arguing before a neutral arbitrator Wednesday over whether the bonuses violate workers' contracts.

"That's where working together really got legs," Jeff Brundage, senior vice president for human resources, said in an interview last year. "It became a mantra for not doing business the way we always had."

Arpey's predecessor, Don Carty, resigned in April 2003 when management perks and benefits came to light after workers agreed to $1.8 billion in job, pay and benefit cuts that saved the company from a bankruptcy filing.

American's cooperation with unions since then has "significantly differentiated" the airline from Delta and Northwest, said Jamie Baker, a JP Morgan Securities analyst in New York. Both carriers filed for bankruptcy in September.

Among the five largest U.S. airlines, American is the only one never to have gone bankrupt.

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