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We entered 2012 with a clear commitment to succeed in our restructuring, armed with a thorough evaluation of our competitive space and industry trends. We knew that as part of our overall targeted financial improvements of more than $3 billion, a third of those savings would need to come from employee-related cost reductions. At the same time, we were determined to make changes in a fair and equitable way, with as much transparency as possible in process and outcomes.
Accordingly, we determined that 20 percent of those cuts would be made across the board, including in management, with savings achieved by slightly different means in various workgroups. Ultimately, the savings target for each group was lowered to 17 percent through negotiations and our desire to reach consensual agreements. We applied the same savings target adjustment to independent employees to be fair and equitable.
In all of our restructuring efforts, for both our unionized and our independent employees, we worked to preserve employee compensation as much as possible by focusing on opportunities to improve operating efficiencies. We also revised many restrictive provisions that threatened to limit our competitiveness.
In addition to changes that affected individual workgroups, the company moved to a universal program for health and retirement benefit plans for all of our people. We created a universal health program that standardizes and simplifies our benefits program for active employees; aligned the medical benefits available to active employees when they retire with those offered by other airlines and large corporations; froze our defined benefit pension plans; and terminated the pilot B Plan. By freezing the plans, our people will retain the full value of benefits accrued in the plans through October 31, 2012. The defined benefit pension plans were replaced from a company-matching benefit to a defined contribution benefit plan for all eligible Agent, Representative, Planner, Flight Attendant, TWU-represented, Management and Support Staff employees on November 1, 2012. The company will match, dollar-for-dollar, an employee's pre-tax and/or Roth 401(k) contributions to the $uper $aver 401(k) plan, up to 5.5 percent of eligible earnings. Pilots will receive a 14 percent contribution to the $uper $aver Plan which was effective for pay earned starting November 1, 2012.
As part of management's cost savings, we mapped out a redesign for Management and Support Staff employees to position the company for the future.The goal of the redesign was to create a customer-focused culture of accountability and high performance, while meeting three main objectives:
Through hard work and difficult decision-making, we are well-positioned to emerge from internal restructuring a stronger, more focused enterprise.
We recognized early in our restructuring process that many newly-promoted managers would face an evolving set of roles, responsibilities and challenges. To help maximize the success of team members in these new positions, we expanded our offerings of "Making the Transition," A course specifically designed to help managers navigate the complexities of their new roles and exchange sucessful management strategies. All managers received training to prepare them for difficult conversations they would have with employees that exited and to discuss career transition serivces. We also continued to offer leadership development training to potential managers in each of our business units.
For departing employees, we focused development efforts on career transition planning through the offering of career symposia, intranet job boards and training in interview skills, resume development and networking. Through the collaborative efforts of our human resource officers, Diversity Advisory Council and members of American's extensive Employee Resource Group (ERG) network, we were able to deliver in-person career transition assistance tailored to the specific needs of people at many of our locations to help departing employees identify and promote their transferrable skill sets.
Looking ahead, we are investing in training and operational enhancements that empower our people to deliver exceptional service to customers while supporting the goals of our business and brand. Key focus areas include: