With a judge’s ruling looming, the Allied Pilots Association’s board of directors decided 11-5 Wednesday not to send American Airlines Inc.’s “last, best” contract offer to pilots for a vote.

“In explaining their opposition to approving the offer as a tentative agreement, a number of Board members cited the lack of specificity in various areas and the need for additional time to properly analyze various contractual provisions and related language,” the union told members in a Wednesday night hotline.

The decision comes as American and its unions come upon a Friday deadline for U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Sean Lane to rule on American’s request to throw out its union contracts.

APA and management negotiators had met over a two-week period, at times with the help of another bankruptcy judge acting as a mediator, and the union had cited “progress” in talks.

That raised the possibility that the APA board would follow the lead of the Transport Workers Union, which in May had sent the company’s last, best offer to its members. Five of the TWU’s seven bargaining units at American then approved the company’s offer.

The TWU leadership sent the proposed contracts out without recommendation. However, the APA’s constitution and bylaws doesn’t provide for a no-recommendation vote, only for tentative agreements approved by the union’s board of directors.

The APA hotline said the vote was 11-5 against accepting it as a tentative agreement and asking members to vote on it.

“We are very disappointed that the Allied Pilots Association has decided not to give American Airlines pilots the opportunity to vote on our last, best and final offer,” American spokesman Bruce Hicks said.

“Both parties worked hard to reach a compromise on what are very intricate and complex issues, resulting in a proposal that provides significant benefits for pilots,” he said.

Although the union hadn’t released any details on American’s latest proposal, Hicks said it “includes pay increases, a mid-term adjustment to industry average pay rates, furlough protection, profit sharing, seeking a freeze of the pension instead of termination, and an equity stake in the new American.”

He added: “We hope the APA will ultimately allow our pilots an opportunity to vote.”

American, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Nov. 29, is seeking to cut pilot costs by $370 million through greater productivity, lower medical insurance and pension costs and other concessions.

At least two thirds of the $1 billion in annual revenues it is proposing to attract would come from flying down by regional carriers operating under contract to American or through marketing arrangements with other carriers. American’s pilots has sought to protect that flying for its members.


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