The American Airlines chief executive, Doug Parker, spoke to workers last week about his decision to publicly oppose restrictive voting legislation pending in Texas, saying that people of color feel “as though these laws are making it much harder for people like them to vote.”
Mr. Parker said in a meeting with employees that he wasn’t trying to take sides in a partisan dispute, but that for him, voting rights was “an equity issue,” according to a recording of the conversation obtained by View From the Wing, a travel industry blog.
American Airlines declined to comment on the recording.
The airline, which is based in Fort Worth, was among the first major companies to publicly oppose the voting legislation that Republicans were advancing in Texas. Just days after Georgia passed a voting law that would make it harder for some people to vote, the company came out against similar legislation pending in Texas, saying it was “strongly opposed to this bill and others like it.”
In the meeting with employees last week, Mr. Parker said he felt the company was going to have to weigh in on the issue. “I think there was virtually no chance we could stay out of it,” he said. “You have to take a stand on these things.”
He added that legislation that targets minority populations is bad for the economy, noting that when such laws pass, companies, sports leagues and entertainers sometimes take their business elsewhere.
“The more we divide ourselves, and the more divisive we become, the less likely it is that people are going to travel to states that take divisive stances, and that’s not good for us either,” Mr. Parker said.
Mr. Parker’s comments come as companies around the country are calibrating their opposition to restrictive voting laws being advanced by Republicans in almost every state. Hundreds of companies last week signed a letter opposing “discriminatory legislation.” Yet there is so far scant evidence that Republican lawmakers are reining in their efforts as a result of the corporate community’s outcry.