DALLAS (CNN) - In an effort to cut costs, American Airlines -
the largest U.S. carrier -- implored employees not to call in sick unless they absolutely have to.
In a recorded message Wednesday available through a toll-free employee "hotline," Donald Carty, chairman and CEO of American's parent company, AMR Corp. (AMR: down $0.08 to $6.87, Research, Estimates), makes a direct appeal, telling his troops that in 2002 more than 5 percent, or 3,700 workers, were out on an average day because of sickness or workman's compensation issues, which cost the airline about $1 million a day.
The voice message says in part: "Every single person at American can help us whittle that number down by taking care of yourself and staying safe, both at work and during your off hours. We don't want to see any members of our AA family sick or injured. And, we desperately need all of our employees to come to work unless their injury or illness truly prevents them from doing so."
"As employees of American, we should all be grateful for the protection we receive through sick or injury-on-duty pay, but we simply can't afford to have any employee take these benefits for granted or to misuse them," the message continues.
"Now, let me be clear that I am not asking anyone to be at work who is ill or injured. But if you are able to work and, for whatever reason, you just don't want to show up, please reconsider," the message adds.
Carty said "phony sick absences not only make work more difficult for your fellow workers, they also cost the company a lot of money that we desperately need to save our airline."
He continues, "In fact, you might look at it this way. We are going to have to find the additional $2 billion we need in annual cost savings one way or the other -- and eliminating the abuse of sick time and workers comp seems a pretty easy way of getting a big chunk of that goal ... just by coming to work as scheduled. It doesn't get much easier than that. "
American Airlines is looking to cut costs so it can compete with the low-cost airlines. Its closest competitor, UAL Corp. (UAL: Research, Estimates), the parent of United Airlines, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last month.