It was recently reported that American Airways and US Airways will be merged with the world’s biggest airline and that the company intends to operate flights from the US to Israel. This significant change in the civil airline field harbors a bitter truth: American Airlines, which acquired TWA in 2001, demonstrably and deliberately ignored 80 Israeli employees who operated flights in Israel, and were fired immediately after TWA was acquired. “The move left the company’s workers without wages, severance payments and other rights according to collective work agreements that were signed with the Histadrut,” explains attorney Yoni Abadi, who represents the workers.
When American Airlines acquired TWA in 2001, TWA was the eighth biggest airline in the world and it was undergoing bankruptcy. The acquisition included all 20,000 of its employees worldwide, including TWA’s flight routes all over the world and TWA’s debts, which were estimated at some $4.5 billion.
In the acquisition process, TWA’s station in Israel was completely ignored. The eighty employees who were fired launched legal actions immediately in order to get the funds they were entitled to by Israeli law, as they were over the age of 50 and with seniority of 25 years in average.
These legal proceedings went on for over nine years and only four years ago a settlement was signed, though only 14% of the total funds entitled to the employees has been implemented, which today are estimated at 60 millions shekels. Now a representation of the former Israeli TWA employees is being formed for another battle against the New American Airlines: “The ongoing discrimination and alienation toward Israeli employees will certainly and justifiably bring about a negative public campaign against American Airlines in Israel, due to its actions and especially due to its failures throughout the years”, explains Meir Knobel, a former manager of the TWA station in Israel.
Attorneys Yoni Abadi and Dor Nachman, who represent the group in the legal battle, add: “It was explicitly decided in the bankruptcy case verdict held before Honorable Judge Varda Alshech in the Tel Aviv District Court, that American Airlines discriminated against the Israeli employees, alienated them and considered a workforce that’s protected by social rights as a “negative economic factor,” while in all of TWA’s representations around the world, employees continued to work or were fired but received the full wages, other social rights and severance payments that they deserved. In Israel, the collective agreements that were signed between the Histadrut and TWA in Israel weren’t honored. The station in Israel was closed, workers were fired and their wages were not paid. They also didn’t receive severance payments and other rights and conditions they were entitled to by the relevant agreements and according to the law. It should be made clear that American Airlines decided not to operate flights in Israel for many years, starting in fact from the date TWA was acquired.”