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Sunday, September 21, 2008

American Airlines Revisited

Last week, I posted an article regarding American Airlines avoidance of more layoffs as their industry continues its "legacy" of financial distress. The post, which received a comment regarding high paying salaries related to not only the industry but the profession (pilots), was quite thought provoking. 
Even though a number of qualified folks have been "let go" over the years, it isn't necessarily the fact that they become unemployed that is the trouble, it is the forfeiture of benefits that causes the real damage. Granted, today's job market is tough, but with experience and a good work history it can be overcome. I digress, the real issue (as I see it) is that finding another job or paycheck dulls in comparison to losing a lifetimes work and the possible pension and retirement benefits associated with the lost job.
My grandfather spent almost his entire life working in an injection molding plant. He had a great pension, retirement plan and numerous insurance benefits that went along with it. As he neared retirement, the company came upon hard financial times (mid 1970's) and laid off their most senior people first. He lost his lifetime worth of work and benefits (back in those days there were even less workers rights than nowadays). He was in his early sixties at that time and ended up working until the day he died (Oct. 8, 1987). In fact, he died at work when he should have been out in a boat fishing or cooking on the grill. 
That is why I believe that the availability of jobs is beside the point. When you lose your goal (retirement), you lose everything.