American Airlines to lay off 370 at Tulsa maintenance base
BY D.R. STEWART World Staff Writer
Saturday, October 06, 2012
10/06/12 at 7:02 AM
See previous stories about American Airlines and its Tulsa operations.
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.
The announcement came after American said Thursday that 709 mechanics, plant maintenance and logistics specialists in Tulsa elected to take an early-retirement option.
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 base 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.
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 bankruptcy last November.
"It's a major relief on the numbers," Cirri said. "We hate to experience even one layoff because we know that impacts one of our members and their family. But the company originally sought to put over 2,700 of our members on the street as well as outsource the bulk of the work we perform as part of the plan it presented to the bankruptcy court.
"TWU 514 has greatly reduced these numbers by fighting extremely hard to keep work at the Tulsa base. This is a great example of what we can do when we stay united and fiercely protect the work of members."
Cirri said the union local will help anybody who's being laid off find other work at the base. A licensed aircraft maintenance technician, for example, could move into a lower AMT/Overhaul support mechanic position, which would mean taking a $5 per hour wage cut, he said.
For workers without seniority or other options, the union proposes to hold classes on writing resumes or help them find other jobs, Cirri said.
Since the bankruptcy filing, American executives said they need to restructure the company, cut costs and increase revenue.
To emerge from bankruptcy and compete successfully in the airline industry, American proposes laying off more than 10,000 people companywide and reducing labor costs by $1.06 billion a year.
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 1,900 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.
Laid-off mechanics or fleet service workers who have seniority may seek positions in Dallas, Miami, Orlando and Tampa, Fla., Las Vegas, San Antonio, Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and other cities, TWU officials said.
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 opting for early retirement, company and union officials said.
A total of 143 fleet service workers represented by TWU Local 514 in Tulsa will be laid off, but half of them are employed at facilities in El Paso, Texas, and Memphis, Tenn., which are represented by Local 514, officials said.
In September, the company said more than 1,700 mechanics and related workers - including 839 in Tulsa - would 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, 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 TWU. "Additional headcount changes will be necessary due to adjustments in work load, i.e. aircraft retirements, which will accommodate additional exits in May and September."
American's early-retirement option was a wild card in the mix.
A mechanic who is age 45 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 severance package could be worth up to $39,000, officials said.
Original Print Headline: AA plans 370 layoffs in Tulsa
D.R. Stewart 918-581-8451
An American Airlines plane sits on the tarmac at Tulsa International Airport on Wednesday, January 18, 2012. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World