Ad urges American Airlines workers to reject latest offer
BY D.R. STEWART World Staff Writer
Saturday, July 28, 2012
7/28/12 at 6:32 AM
See previous stories about American Airlines and its Tulsa operations.
A newspaper advertisement urging a "no" vote by American Airlines mechanics and stock clerks on the company's last best contract offer has underscored divisions between Tulsa workers and those at major airport line stations, officials said.
The ad, on page A11 of Friday's Tulsa World, was addressed to Transport Workers Union aircraft maintenance technicians.
"Before you vote on AA's Last Best Offer Version 2," the ad said, "your fellow union brothers and sisters in aircraft maintenance ask that you consider the following important facts about AA's offer:
The ad, which was sponsored by an organization calling itself www.LBO2.com, focuses on the concessions executives at bankrupt American Airlines say they need to reduce $1.25 billion a year in labor costs to compete successfully in the airline industry.
- No job security. ... There is no guarantee that you will have a job by voting for this offer.
- RIF (reductions in force), overtime, field trip rules and gain share to be written after you vote.
- 1/7 "weekends off" rule eliminated without alternative options discussed.
- No guarantee of future work at TULE (Tulsa Maintenance & Engineering Center) + 35 percent outsourcing of current work.
- Overtime (job continuation) of up to three hours as determined by management.
- Yet to be defined "peak base visits" allowed to be 100 percent outsourced.
- Cabin work permanently converted from AMR (licensed aircraft maintenance technician) to OSM (unlicensed overhaul support mechanic) - minus $10 per hour.
- Pension frozen. Retiree medical (insurance) and sixth week of vacation eliminated."
But John Hewitt, chairman of maintenance at TWU Local 514 in Tulsa, said five of the eight "bullet points" in the ad are misleading or "outright lies."
"What they fail to mention is what happens if the 'no' votes prevail," Hewitt said. "We are not in normal negotiations where the company must negotiate over the contract as a whole. In fact, we are in the bankruptcy arena, which gives the company much more power over its union contracts than it normally has. ... In bankruptcy, if the union and the company cannot reach an agreement, the courts can then do away with the contract altogether, giving the company the right to change rates of pay and work rules as it deems necessary."
American's final offer includes layoffs of at least 2,000 mechanics, 15 percent wage increases over six years and the ability to outsource up to 35 percent of aircraft maintenance now performed in house.
The Tulsa M&E base employs 5,600 mechanics and 7,000 people overall.
On the website of www.LBO2.com are letters to TWU mechanics from the executive board of Local 564 in El Segundo, Calif., and the presidents of Local 565 in Dallas/Fort Worth and Local 562 in New York.
Gary Peterson, president of Local 565, told his members in the letter that the company's final offer did nothing to improve the lives of line maintenance workers and, in some cases, "sent us even further backwards."
The company's intent in its final offer is to propose just enough improvements to win "yes" votes of 600 mechanics and stock clerks - the number necessary to reverse the 1,154-ballot "no" vote on the initial offer, Peterson said.
Peterson said voting no will still give the union and the company a week to negotiate another offer before the bankruptcy judge rules on American's motion to cancel its collective bargaining agreement.
"When you compare aircraft mechanics across the industry, you will find AA mechanics at the bottom of the barrel - and something needs to change," Peterson said in a telephone interview.
The letters from the other union locals have similar tones.
"The 'last best offer part 2' does not address the concerns of the membership, including, but not limited to: job security, seniority, scope, retirement and compensation," said the letter from Local 564's executive board. "The executive board ... will not support another concessionary last best offer from AA management."
Original Print Headline: Ad urges AA union workers to reject offer
D.R. Stewart 918-581-8451