TWU union vote wasn't close in Tulsa
BY JOHN STANCAVAGE World Business Editor
Thursday, August 09, 2012
While the Transport Workers Union’s recent vote on a new contract with American Airlines was a nail-biter overall, it wasn’t nearly as close in Tulsa.
The Local 514, which represents about 5,000 mechanics and related workers at American’s Tulsa maintenance base, announced Thursday that its members voted 74 percent “yes” to 26 percent “no.”
For the entire union, the result was 50.25 percent for the contract with bankrupt American and 49.75 percent against it. Only 48 votes separated the two sides, with 9,554 votes cast.
Another TWU group, stock clerks, voted 858 “yes,” or 79 percent, and 229 “no,” or 21 percent, for their deal. Tulsa clerks approved the contract 89 percent to 11 percent.
TWU 514 president Sam Cirri said Thursday in a message to members that the union needs to pull together.
“We realize that voting to give up work rules and benefits that took years to negotiate is very disheartening,” he said. “This was not an easy choice for anyone. We have been divided for far too long and it is time we again work at being one.”
Some TWU members at other American Airlines facilities, including those in Dallas-Fort Worth, El Segundo, Calif., and New York, had loudly protested the contract’s terms. One group from Dallas even came to Tulsa for a day last week to picket against the proposal.
TWU workers at those sites have a higher cost of living than Tulsa, some observers have pointed out.
The layoffs likely will begin in six to nine months, company officials said.
American, which is trying to reduce its labor costs by $1.06 billion, originally wanted to cut more than 2,100 Tulsa mechanics and related workers, and 160 stock clerks. The new deals reduced those numbers to 770 and 90, respectively.
The new contracts must be approved by the bankruptcy court.