Nation & World

Airline wants to outsource 5,000 maintenance workers: union

American says it has more union maintenance, fleet positions that others

TNS

American Airlines and two unions are to meet Monday in federal court.
TNS American Airlines and two unions are to meet Monday in federal court.

American Airlines could outsource another 5,000 union maintenance and fleet service workers, said one of the unions representing those workers.

After nearly four years of tense contract negotiations, International Association of Machinists spokesman Joe Tiberi said Fort Worth-based American Airlines is refusing to make commitments to how much maintenance and fleet service work will be done by company employees.

“They are looking to significantly reduce the union footprint,” Tiberi said. “In places like Dallas, they replace union labor with lower cost and lower benefit labor, and that impacts the whole community.”

American Airlines spokesman Joshua Freed didn’t deny that unionized maintenance and fleet service positions could decrease but said instead that the airline plans to offer job and location security to current workers.

“We’ve been pretty clear all along that we do more maintenance and fleet service work than any other airline,” Freed said. “Our proposal language ensures that will continue to be the case.”

American Airlines operates flights to Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids.

Discussions on outsourcing labor came during ongoing contract negotiations as the groups try to merge 31,000 mechanics, fleet service workers and other unionized employees that were part of American Airlines and US Airways when they merged in 2013.

Those workers are represented by the International Association of Machinists and Transport Workers of America, who formed a joint committee to negotiate in 2014.

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Negotiations are so tense that American accused its mechanics of intentionally slowing down work to create cancellations and delays. The unions have denied those charges, and the sides are set to meet in federal court Monday.

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