American Airlines and American Eagle employees protest Monday in New York City against American's plans to cut jobs and labor costs while under bankruptcy court protection. American is seeking permission to break up union contracts and cut expenses, but the unions oppose those plans and support a potential takeover bid by US Airways.
With US Airways breathing down its neck, making nice with its unions as well as its creditors, American Airlines came to New York City on Monday to ask a federal bankruptcy judge for relief. Mostly, American wants relief from its unions — 13,000 jobs would be eliminated under its reorganization proposal. American has been hemorrhaging money for years and wants to lower its costs to compete.
NPR's business news starts with labor woes at AT&T.
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MONTAGNE: AT&T and union officials have agreed to extend contract negotiations, preventing a mass walkout by some 40,000 unionized workers. The deadline to agree on the new contract had been yesterday. AT&T is seeking concessions from its workers, including cuts in pension contributions, and also an increase in health care premiums. The union is calling those concessions unrealistic.
Italy's technocrat prime minister, Mario Monti, came to office less than five months ago as the country's finances were in a tailspin. And now he could be facing his toughest challenge yet — pushing through changes to labor regulations.
Italian labor rules ensure job security for older workers but can condemn the younger generation to a series of insecure, temporary jobs.
Since taking office, Monti has pushed through a round of tough austerity measures, budget cuts, pension reform and some deregulation.
Italy's next step in a crisis is at the top of NPR's business news.
Italian prime minister Mario Monti is trying to restructure the economy so his country has a better shot at paying its debts. Today, he sits down to negotiate with the country's powerful trade union leaders. Monti hopes to weaken legal protections that make it almost impossible to fire employees. He blames these rules for slow economic growth and high unemployment in Italy.
President Obama has received a high-profile endorsement for his re-election bid. Though it's no surprise the country's largest federation of unions, the AFL-CIO, has traditionally endorsed a Democrat for president.
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The strength of that support bears watching this year. Collective bargaining has been under attack in several states, draining union resources.
MONTAGNE: But labor leaders say it's also made them more determined than ever to keep Mr. Obama in the White House. NPR's Scott Horsley reports.