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C.R.'s Honeybuns

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Jock Bethune
12:17 AM ET (US)
Here's the official decision:
Case No. 11-15463 (SHL) Adv. Pro. No. 12-01744 (SHL)
Jock Bethune
12:11 AM ET (US)
Peggy, no need to do anything further. I just was curious about the source - if it was a news article etc. Always best to credit your source on very important items like this. The information itself was fine!
Here's an update on the subject from Jetwire Monday April 21 2014:
Judge Gives Ruling on Retiree Benefits
On Friday, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Sean H. Lane rejected American's request to be allowed to modify the medical and life insurance benefits of most legacy American employees who retired before November 1, 2012. While the ruling does permit the company to modify or terminate the plans of some non-union and management retirees now, a trial will be necessary to determine whether other retirees' benefits can be changed. We'll share additional information in the coming weeks on next steps for any of the plans.
peggy fender
06:31 PM ET (US)
Jock, I can't find the post, there are too many of them. Is the info incorrect? If so, I will delete the message.
sandy phelps
04:36 PM ET (US)
PS Thanks to Peggy and Jock for staying on top of this.
sandy phelps
04:35 PM ET (US)
for those of you who don't take Jock's newsletter or have trouble logging onto other websites a video of DOUG'S SPEECH - WILLIAMSBURG is on JETNET RETIREE HOMEPAGE.
peggy fender
11:16 AM ET (US)
Jock, I did copy/paste this message from someone's post on Facebook. I can't remember whose post it was...there are too many to count on there. I think I remember, will go back and double check then post the person's name here.
Jock Bethune
09:59 AM ET (US)
Peggy, did you write this message? If not, what was your source? I've seen a lot on this subject yesterday and today.
peggy fender
09:27 PM ET (US)
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Sean Lane on Friday denied part of American Airlines’ request for summary judgment on the issue of retiree health benefits and approved part of the request.

However, it looks like pretty much a win for most of the tens of thousands retirees who would have faced paying their own insurance premiums.

His order doesn’t settle the issues raised, only that he didn’t find sufficient reason to rule in American’s favor. American could request a full trial.

A representative of the retirees’ committee said “the retirees prevailed almost across the board. The groups where the court granted AMR summary judgment are very small and many, if not most of the individuals in those groups, are in other groups where the court refused to grant summary judgment.”

American had sought a ruling that it was free to change the health plans in which it helps pay the premiums for retirees. If allowed, American said it would require retirees who wanted to keep the benefits to pay all of the premiums.

“We thank Judge Lane for his thoughtful consideration of the issues,” American spokesman Casey Norton said. “American will review his ruling and consider next steps related to the retiree health and life insurance benefits. We always remain open to productive discussions to finally resolve this matter.”

American’s attorney had told the judge at a March hearing that it intended to make retirees begin paying 100 percent of their premiums soon. In the face of Friday’s ruling, ““We’ll review our legal options and make sure we conduct ourselves according to the judge’s ruling,” Norton said.

The judge wrote that the question was whether promises made to provide the benefits had been promised in way that they were vested and couldn’t be unilaterally changed.

“The Plaintiffs [American, parent AMR and other relative companies] contend that none of the operative documents can be read as a promise to provide benefits for life and that the documents reserve the right to modify the benefits,” Lane wrote.

“But for reasons set forth below, with limited exceptions, the Court denies the Motion because the relevant documents contain language reasonably susceptible to interpretation as a promise to vest benefits and lack language categorically reserving the Plaintiffs’ right to terminate their contributions to the retiree benefits,” the opinion stated.

The judge then summed up the various coverages in dispute:

“The Retiree Benefits generally include medical coverage for retirees who are not yet 65, medical coverage for those over 65, and life insurance. For most retirees, medical coverage is either wholly or partially funded by the Debtors. With respect to medical coverage for retirees who previously worked at Trans World Airlines (“TWA”) before its merger with American, however, the Debtors fund pre-65 coverage with retiree and company contributions, but the 65 and over coverage is funded solely by retiree contributions. The Debtors also fully fund life insurance for all retired employees, including the TWA Retirees. The Debtors now seek to shift the entire cost of all these programs to the retirees themselves while still providing retirees access to benefits at group rates.

“As of the Petition Date [Nov. 29, 2011, when American et al filed bankruptcy papers], the Debtors provided Retiree Benefits to approximately 46,930 retirees. These retirees can be grouped into several distinct categories: (1) retired union employees from the APA, APFA, and TWU (together the “Union Retirees”); (2) retired TWA employees; and (3) retired non-union employees (the “Non-Union Retirees”). Among these groups, the terms of the Retiree Benefits vary. The terms further depend on when the employee retired and whether they opted into any early retirement or prefunding agreement with American.:

For a number of pages, Judge Lane weighed American’s position that the summary documents for the benefit plans gave it flexibility to change the plans, versus the retirees’ position that he had to look at the collective bargaining agreements between American and its unions.

After weighing the arguments and precedent, Lane wrote that “the court rejects Plaintiffs’ argument that the CBAs should not be considered in assessing whether benefits have vested for the retirees.”

American had argued that commitments to retirees provided in union contracts changed when the contracts changed. But Lane ruled that the collective bargaining agreement in place at the time of the employee’s retirement governed that retiree’s benefits, not any subsequent labor contracts approved after the person retired.

The judge noted that if a company in bankruptcy wants to change retiree benefits, it must do so under Section 1114 of the federal bankruptcy code.

American did file requests to abrogate its existing labor agreements under Section 1113, which covers union agreements. It reached agreement with all unions but the Allied Pilots Association before the judge ruled on abrogation. He agreed to abrogate the APA contract; American and the union subsequently negotiated a new contract.

However, American never filed a Section 1114 motion covering retiree benefits. Instead, it simply asked the judge to rule that it wasn’t bound to keep paying retiree insurance premiums.

The judge said American’s arguments under Section 1113 for current employees don’t cover retirees.

“Court rejects any notion that the Section 1113 proceedings in this case somehow accomplished the dual purpose of abrogating the CBAs of current union workers while also eliminating any right to benefits for retirees. Such a result would be grossly unfair to both current and former employees. It would allow a debtor to double dip on its savings without proving the need for such savings.

“Such a result is also problematic for another obvious reason: the retirees had no voice in the Section 1113 proceedings. While the Court appointed a retiree committee in this case to represent the interests of retired employees—who are no longer represented by their labor organizations—the retiree committee did not participate in the Section 1113 proceedings. Indeed there was no reason for retirees to participate in the Section 1113 proceedings because no relief was requested as to retiree benefits.”

On the other hand, “the Court is not persuaded by the Defendant’s [the retiree committee] claim that the Railway Labor Act somehow guarantees that retiree benefits must continue regardless of whether those benefits have vested or the employer has reserved the right to terminate them.

“The Defendant points to no authority establishing that the Railway Labor Act automatically vests retiree benefits, regardless of the terms of the relevant documents, and the Court is aware of none. There is also nothing in this Court’s prior opinion in this case on the Railway Labor Act that supports the Defendant’s position,” Lane wrote

Allied PIlots Association retirees: “The Defendant points to various language in the documents that make up the CBAs as being reasonably susceptible to interpretation as a promise to vest benefits. The Court agrees that these can be reasonably interpreted as a promise for lifetime benefits.”

Association of Professional Flight Attendants retirees: “Given the issues identified the Court determines on this record that the Plaintiffs are not entitled to summary judgment on the question of vesting of benefits for APFA.”

APFA members who retired since 1995: In 1995, the parties amended the APFA CBA to include a “me too” clause connecting flight attendant retirement benefits to those of pilots under the APA CBA. The Court has concluded that the APA CBAs contain language reasonably capable of interpretation as a promise to vest benefits, and the APFA flight attendants who retired since 1995 stand in same posture as the APA pilots. Accordingly, summary judgment is not proper with respect to these APFA retirees.

APFA members who took early retirement: Statements in the contract’s early-retirement section , “are capable of interpretation as a promise to vest medical benefits to these flight attendants who opted for early retirement.”

APFA members who retired prior to 1995: While the court didn’t find language promising lifetime benefits to flight attendants who took regular retirement prior to the 1995 contract, “it would seem an anomalous result to promise early retirees vested benefits and not offer any medical or life insurance to standard retirees.”

Transport Workers Union retirees: “Given all these provisions [in the TWU contracts], the Court is satisfied that the Defendant has identified language reasonably capable of interpretation as a promise to vest benefits.”

Employees who retired during “early-out” programs in 1987, 1994 and 1995: “ the Court is not persuaded on this record that any of this reservation language is sufficient to permit the Plaintiffs to terminate the benefits offered under these early out agreements.”

Non-union employees who prefunded their retirement benefits (a win for American): Lane said that language in a trust agreement setting up the benefits clearly gave American the right to terminate the program.

Non-union employees covered by 1962, 1965, 1969 and 1980 benefit plan documents: Employees covered by the 1980 document have their benefits vested, but those covered by the 1960s plan documents do not.

Trans World Airlines retirees: The judge ruled in favor of the retirees and against American’s request for summary judgment. He raised the issue of “judicial estoppel,” or whether American was making arguments contradicted arguments it previously had made in court.

The language seemed particularly pointed as Judge Lane discussed American’s agreement to assume liabilities for employee benefits when it bought TWA’s assets in 2001 in TWA’s bankruptcy case, versus American’s assertions in Lane’s court that it isn’t obligated to pay those benefits:

“The Plaintiffs now appear to disavow these representations about the commitment to pay these benefits. The Plaintiffs’ briefing, for example, labels these liabilities as ‘contingent.’ But the Plaintiffs fail to explain what the contingency was. They also fail to identify anything in the TWA Purchase Agreement, or the court order approving it, that suggests the liability was contingent. As best as the Court can determine, the Plaintiffs contend that American only had to book the liability and provide coverage for the TWA Retirees for some indefinite period of time. But under this logic, American never had an obligation to pay any of these retiree benefits at any time, and instead merely was required to provide an estimate of an apparently non-binding obligation. The Plaintiffs’ view conveniently ignores the statement in the contract that it assumed or was “otherwise obligated” to pay the liabilities identified on Section 3.1, which included the TWA retiree benefits. The Court refuses to adopt such a nonsensical reading of American’s obligations. Indeed, it is hard to believe that the TWA bankruptcy court would have approved the TWA Purchase Agreement and the Section 1114 motion if American’s obligations were characterized in that way.”
S Slusser
07:11 PM ET (US)
Hi Peggy, Sad news. Mom passed Apr. 1st. at 94 yrs. What a life ! What a woman ! What a Mom ! SuSie
Sent from my iPad

> On Apr 13, 2014, at 6:02 PM, "QT - peggy fender" <> wrote:
< replied-to message removed by QT >
peggy fender
07:02 PM ET (US)
from what I have read about the meeting in Williamsuburg, the D2R is here to stay. Alas!
sandy phelps
11:09 PM ET (US)
Wellll... can't believe this happened.. I was coming out of restaurant, tripped on curb, landed face down in concrete, 4 hrs in ER, nothing broken... look like I've been mugged - would scare small children!! Needless to say this canceled trip to Williamsburg.
I talked w/Jock, over 100+ going - say a prayer for them.
Anyone else of CR's group going? Please post what happened....
Ta Ta
sandy phelps
01:29 PM ET (US)
Thanks to Barbara and Jerry for clearing confusion about non/rev charges..WHEW!...also Jock for posting newsletter and Williamsburg info AND Jackie for compiling 'letter' book. Happpy trails. Sandy
Barbara George
01:04 PM ET (US)
It is my understanding that the unlimited free Coach travel for longterm employees and retirees is still in place. Also that unlimited free coach travel for all employees and retirees, as has been the policy at USAir prior to merger, will be extended to all as soon as the two travel systems are merged. Please correct me if I am incorrect. Just heard that a friend, a former longtime AA FA, traveled IND/PHX Y on New American Airlines (former USAir route)for only the $2.00 service charge which is charged when we book and buy through the Interline travel on Jetnet. It used to be about $20 prior to the merger/takeover.

Hope this is helpful.

Barbara George
Jock Bethune
12:01 AM ET (US)
If anyone wants to get on my AA friends email list just send a request with you name and email address to: There are times when its published frequently and times when months go by without one - especially when I can't keep up!! Jock Bethune
Jerry Loomis
07:45 PM ET (US)

In looking at the current "NRSA Charges" section on JetNet, it does seem to have a slightly different look than what I remember, but for the most part, I think it is much like what we have had in the past.

The confusing part is that the "D1/D2 EMP/RETIREE..." listing in the top chart is for new employees (with less than five years, I think). These employees would have to pay for coach travel at the rates listed in this first chart.

The chart at the bottom "D1/D2- 5 YEARS..." is the one that would apply to us (5 years or more of employment), and there is no charge listed for coach travel.

If I am wrong in this interpretation, someone please correct me.

Part of my confusion was that the top chart included "RETIREES"--I haven't yet figured out how you can be a RETIREE with less than five years of employment...

(And if there are people who do fit in this category, wouldn't that be a kick in the butt: to have to travel D2R... AND to have to pay coach service charges!?!)

Jerry Loomis
sandy phelps
01:04 PM ET (US)
I might be just me BUT there are now two segments, one at top which advises new charges, then at very bottom the one we know. May be just me... take a look. I don't think AAL has a mailer about it.
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