As with so many mature industries in the U.S., it hasn't been easy being an airline employee in recent years. Industry consolidation, layoffs, the rising cost of air travel, and service cutbacks have hampered profits and taken a toll on employee morale.
The latest of those is American Airlines, whose parent, AMR Corp., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in November, leaving many of its workers to wonder what the future holds for them and their livelihoods. American said earlier this month that it wants to lay off another 500 flight attendants this spring in addition to the 13,000 job cuts it already has planned.
The decisions leading to the Fort Worth, Texas-based airlines' downfall inspired one of its flight attendants to produce a series of satirical videos, mocking company management, which caught the attention of executives and sympathetic Internet viewers.
Now the employee, Gailen David, faces the prospect of losing his job for posting the videos on YouTube and is asking the viewing public to vote on his fate.
"Be sure to comment about whether I should be fired or not for the Aluminum Lady!" David posted Thursday on his Facebook page, referring to the title, itself a parody of the 2011 film, "The Iron Lady," about British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
As ABC News reports, the series features David posing in drag (pictured above) as the "Minister of Flight Attendants," a spoof on Thatcher.
In one video, the parodied female executive, referring to American Airlines employees, says: "United Airlines is offering their flight attendants a $65,000 cash buyout to go ahead and leave, and they're also giving them 15 years of travel. I say that we make things so unbearable that they're going to thank us when we hand them five years of free travel and a year's supply of premium Chex Mix from first class."
AMR executives, who weren't amused, summoned David to a disciplinary meeting and was told by his boss that he would be fired for insubordination if he didn't show.
As BusinessInsider reports, David didn't show and he refuses to take the videos down.
For the company's part, a spokesman said American expects its employees to treat each other with respect, saying the airline has "a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to attacking or harassing other employees."
Whether American will allow David to stay on board, remains to be seen. But it's clear that the last thing the company needs is a public-relations controversy -- especially one in which the employee appears to be flying high.
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