It's Time to Come Clean Claire
The Scandal Behind the 2008 APFA Officer Election
Did Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill violate Senate Ethics Rules when she involved herself in a union officer election without disclosing a personal relationship with the incumbent administration? Some American Airlines flight attendants would like the senator to explain her actions.
February 22, 2011
Honorable Claire McCaskill
United States Senate
Hart Senate Office Building, Ste. 717
Washington, D.C. 20510
(Sent via email @ http://mccaskill.senate.gov/?p=contact)
Re: Association of Professional Flight Attendants 2007 Recall Extension
I read this week that the Association of Professional Flight attendants (APFA) reached yet another recall extension without your political involvement. This is the second recall extension since you interjected yourself in APFA’s affairs back in 2007, the latest being February of 2009. While this recent extension does provide some security to the former-TWA flight attendants who still remain on furlough, today's Side Letter of Agreement extending recall indefinitely also allows American to hire flight attendants out of seniority and to employ these new hires before recalling those who have been on furlough for more than seven years. To say that it's a slap in the face to your constituents is an understatement. I'm not sure which is worse, stealing their furlough pay without membership ratification and then furloughing them, or hiring new people off the street to go in front of them for employment. Either way, it’s ununionlike.
Notice how many AMR executives donated to my reelection campiagn fund.
This issue's caused quite a stir, particularly within the union governance where several APFA Board Members have accused Congressman Russ Carnahan of "blackmailing" our union president, Laura Glading, into extending recall. While I have no reason to believe that Congressman Carnahan exerted the power of his political office to strong-arm the APFA leadership, the fact that the APFA openly accused him of doing so raises some very serious ethical questions.
And this brings me, Senator, to a rumor circulating the American Airlines property, one which suggests that your involvement in APFA's affairs in late 2007 was not about helping the former-TWA flight attendants, but rather about helping a friend. Please know that this rumor didn't evolve over time but rather sprouted overnight when an APFA Executive Appointee by the name of Anne Loew began boasting to internal union reps about how it was really she who helped broker the 2007 Recall Extension and not Roger Graham, the former-TWA flight attendant credited in your press release. The rumor goes on to suggest that the two of you were friends from college — roommates to be exact — and that it was she, not Roger Graham, who worked behind the scenes to broker the deal. Mr. Graham’s role, if any, was that of a campaign aid, so in essence he was working for you.
The reason these comments caught my attention, Senator, is because APFA was in the midst of a very important union officer election in late 2007, one which would determine if the APFA continued siding with American Airlines in defense of the 2003 Restructuring Agreement, or whether the union would relinquish itself from the company's defense and force the company to defend it's own agreement. At stake was an agreement that had already robbed the flight attendants of approximately $1.5 billion in compensation ($2.5 billion to date), not to mention furloughed thousands against the memberships' NO vote — the former-TWA flight attendants bearing the brunt. Needless to say, American was following the election closely; the company wanted to protect the "working together" relationship they had so enjoyed for the previous four years.
What Ms. Loew's comments suggest, Senator, isn't good. At face value these comments suggest that a United States senator involved herself in a union officer election without disclosing that she was close personal friends with the incumbent administration, and that that involvement was meant to manipulate a union officer election in favor of the incumbent slate. If Ms. Loew's comments are to be taken as truth, it means that you went directly against the best interests of your constituents by supporting an administration that spent millions in union funds ensuring that your constituents stayed out on the street per an agreement that has never been shown to be valid. (Why this matters is because court depositions show that there was no "imminent" bankruptcy threat as American and APFA jointly assert; the AMR Board of Directors never authorized a bankruptcy petition.) More importantly, Ms. Loew's comments suggest that the last National Officer Election was manipulated by the company, the incumbent union leadership, and your senatorial office. Needless to say, Ms. Loew's comments raise more questions than they answer.
While I don't know the exact particulars of the relationship between yourself and Ms. Loew — whether you were college roommates or not — what I do know is this: that you both went to the University of Missouri; you both studied political science; and that you both graduated one year apart, 1975 and 1976. Having delved a bit further, I learned that your sister, Anne Moroh, is a Retired American Airlines flight attendant, a former APFA treasurer, and, ironically, a named Plaintiff in a lawsuit filed against APFA in 1984. Without a doubt, Senator, you had a long-standing rapport with APFA, certainly the incumbent APFA administration, even though your actions were promoted as being arbitrary. In the union's own words "The Senator applied pressure on both parties to come to an agreement on this issue and called on several of her colleagues for support." What this statement suggests is that you stepped in to help your constituents while Ms. Loew's comments suggest that you were brought in by the union. I asked APFA to explain this rumor and they flat-out refused.
What I find most distressing, Senator, is that the only people who appear to have benefited from your interference are the company, the union leadership (past/present), Anne Loew, and yourself. The reason I say this is because although many of the 1,185 flight attendants who fell off the Recall List in 2006 were in fact former-TWA, the Recall Extension only protected those who were alleged to have been furloughed illegally. Simply put, this means that any credit that's to be given for the 2007 Recall Extension belongs to the thirty flight attendants who filed a Federal Complaint alleging that they were furloughed illegally; your office had little to do with the recall extension because it was in the company/union's best interest to extend recall so as to protect themselves from potential liability arising from a wrongful termination.
Now when I look at your 2008 Campaign Contributions, I noticed that several AMR execs listed on the Two-Year Recall Extension donated to your Campaign Fund: Mark Burdette, Wil Ris, Lauri [Curtis] Hadobas and Dan Garton. Gerard Arpey and Jeffery Brundage also donated to your campaign as did Anne Loew. What I find most amazing is that these executives made very few political contributions outside of the American Airlines PAC, which to me suggests that your campaign fund was somehow more important. And as far as Anne Loew is concerned, why would a person claiming residence in the country of Panama make one sole campaign contribution — to a Missouri senatorial race — unless they were fiends?
In closure, your press release stated that the 2007 Two-Year Recall Extension affected "1,200" flight attendants and gave unprecedented voting rights to 410 flight attendants. John Ward lost the election by 1,052. (Why this is important is because APFA leadership went to great lengths in 2010 to strip the former-TWA flight attendants of their voting rights by changing the union Constitution.) It's also important to note that our last union president, Tommie Hutto-Blake, retired with Unlimited, Lifetime, Positive-Space A5 Travel — a retirement perk that's unprecedented in our union's 34 year history. The last time American sold an Unlimited, Lifetime, Positive-Space AAirpass was 2004 and that pass sold for $3 million. Needless to say, Tommie Hutto-Blake was the apple of American’s eye for reasons that have still yet to be answered. And as far as Anne Loew goes, she's now the APFA negotiating Chairperson, which means that she's directly responsible for negotiating our next collective bargaining agreement. As terrifying as that sounds, it's the truth.
Lastly, if we consider that the former-TWA flight attendants forfeited numerous Grievances in exchange for the 2007 Recall Extension, this would mean that the Extension was bought and paid for by the former-TWA flight attendants, even further lessening the need for outside involvement. The AA/APFA Letter of Agreement states:
In consideration of this extension, the APFA agrees to withdraw with prejudice the following grievances:
SS-29-2002-APIA-11 — Passenger Service Employees
SS-2S-2002-APIA-10 — Furlough Pay
SS-26-2002-APIA-OS — Rehire Eligibility
SS-22-2002-APIA-04 — December Pay
SS-43-2003-STL-07 — Sherry Cooper, et al (training on AA equipment)
SS-44-2003-STL-09 — Greg Bertolini, et al (overage leave and furlough travel)
SS-45-2003-STL-10 — Greg Bertolini, et al (revised furlough travel policy)
SS-S5-2006-STL-09 — Greg Bertolini, et al (removal of TWA F/As from the recall list)
I'm sure you can understand the need for some explanations to these very serious allegations. Just as Congressman Carnahan needs to explain why APFA governance is accusing him of "blackmailing" the union, I feel that you need to explain why you involved yourself in APFA's 2007 National Officer Election without disclosing that you were personal friends with an executive appointee under the incumbent administration. Your constituents most certainly deserve some answers.
American Airlines Flight Attendant, Boston
APFA Member Since 1990