NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The rejection of a flight attendant contract and a contentious start to pilot contract talks have been disheartening for the management and workers at American Airlines ( AAL) .
In Atlanta, home of Delta (DAL) , the reaction, no doubt, is somewhat different. Not only is a competitor having problems, but Delta's pilot contract and flight attendant compensation are being held up as models.
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In a message to members on Wednesday, Keith Wilson, president of the Allied Pilots Association, which represents American pilots, praised Delta for its commitment to reward employees with profit-sharing, something American isn't offering.
Last month, Laura Glading, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, convinced American executives to add $13 million annually to their tentative contract proposal, arguing that American flight attendant wages should be equivalent to Delta wages. The proposal still failed.
Delta declined to comment on Thursday. But as recently as Oct. 26, Delta CEO Richard Anderson jabbed American and United (UAL) . While the former has no profit-sharing, the latter has less profit to share.
"What we're always proud about and what sets Delta off as a totally different company than United and American is our profit-sharing," Anderson said in his weekly telephone message to employees.
"For Delta people who have already received an early payment on their 2014 profit-sharing and, come February, will get the remainder of what is expected to be a total of more than $1 billion in profit-sharing paid to our employees, that means 15% on top of what your W2 would otherwise be," Anderson said. "So essentially, it's a 15% pay increase. No other airline is even coming close to that number.
"Some airlines don't have any of this and are proud of the fact that they don't have it," he said, adding, "Delta folks are by far the best paid in the industry."
On Wednesday, in an emailed message to members, APA's Wilson quoted Anderson as saying that "rewarding employees with pay for performance through profit-sharing ... drives revenue growth and better financial returns," and added, "American Airlines management evidently believes otherwise."
At American, "management does not appear to be interested in providing our pilots with a compensation package comparable to industry leader Delta Air Lines," Wilson wrote.
"While initially proposed pay rates are fractionally higher than Delta's current pilot pay rates, there's little adjustment for the absence of profit-sharing, which this year will equal 15% of annual earnings for Delta pilots," he said. "This means that American Airlines pilots' compensation would continue to trail industry leader Delta by a significant margin."
He added that Delta pilots will soon negotiate a new contract that will likely surpass American's proposed pay rates.
American CEO Doug Parker has opposed profit-sharing, saying he would prefer to offer higher wages because profits cannot be assured.
Meanwhile, union spokespeople dismissed Anderson's assertion that Delta flight attendants are better off than others. "I think he's doing everything he can to keep flight attendants at his airline out of a union," said an APFA spokesman.
The International Association of Machinists is currently seeking to organize Delta flight attendants. IAM spokesman Joe Tiberi said Delta flight attendants do not have a contract. "They don't have anything today that the company is required to continue providing tomorrow," he said.