American Airlines to lay off 300 local mechanics by February
BY D.R. STEWART World Staff Writer
Friday, October 05, 2012
10/05/12 at 5:58 PM
American Airlines will lay off 300 mechanics and about 70 fleet service workers at its Tulsa Maintenance & Engineering Center by February, company and Transport Workers Union officials said Friday.
A total of 143 fleet service workers at TWU Local 514 in Tulsa will be laid off, but half the fleet service layoffs will be in El Paso, Texas, and Memphis, Tenn., which are represented by Local 514, officials said.
The layoffs will be effective in November and December for the fleet service workers and in December and February for mechanics, officials said.
Letters notifying workers of the layoffs are being mailed to fleet service workers this week and to mechanics in November, officials said.
The Tulsa maintenance based employs 7,000 people overall, 3,000 of them aircraft maintenance technicians or mechanics. The TWU represents 5,500 workers in several job classifications, including AMTs, plant maintenance technicians and logistics specialists.
The layoff announcement came after American said Thursday that 709 mechanics, plant maintenance and logistics specialists in Tulsa elected to take an early-retirement option.
Sam Cirri, president of TWU Local 514 in Tulsa, said the layoffs are a hardship for those affected but considerably better than the 2,700 workers the company said it needed to cut after it filed for bankruptcy in November.
“It’s a major relief on the numbers,” Cirri said. “But we’re going to try to help anybody who’s being laid off find other work, help them with classes on drawing up a resume or help them find another job.”
American executives said they need to restructure the company, including laying off more than 10,000 workers companywide and reducing labor costs by $1.06 billlion a year, to emerge from bankruptcy and compete successfully in the airline industry.
American’s strategy includes outsourcing up to 35 percent of aircraft maintenance now performed in house and closing the Fort Worth Alliance Airport maintenance base by the end of the year.
The Alliance Airport base employs 1,700 people, 1,000 of whom will be laid off or seek positions elsewhere if their seniority permits them to “bump” less senior workers of the same job classification.
Among the variables affecting the layoff totals at each maintenance base are TWU seniority levels, the willingness of TWU members to relocate to other cities to claim jobs held by more junior members, and the number of workers who chose the early-retirement option, company and union officials said.
In September, the company said more than 1,700 mechanics and related workers — including 839 in Tulsa — will be laid off in December and February at American’s aircraft overhaul bases in Tulsa, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and Alliance Airport.
In Tulsa, where 4,268 mechanics and related workers are employed today, American’s plan was to lay off 233 mechanics in December and 606 mechanics in February.
“The majority of the layoffs that will take place in December...and February 2013 are as a result of the (bankruptcy) restructuring process,” said James Weel, American’s managing director of employee relations in a letter to Don Videtich, international representative of the Transport Workers Union. “Additional headcount changes will be necessary due to adjustments in work load, i.e. aircraft retirements, which will accomodate additional exits in May and September.”
American’s early-retirement option was a wild card in the mix.
A mechanic who is 45 years old with 15 years’ work experience could be eligible for a $12,500 cash payout, plus $10,000 and 13 weeks’ severance pay, company officials said. The total could be up to $39,000, officials said.
An American Airlines plane sits on the tarmac at Tulsa International Airport back in January. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World File