Teamsters union again seeking AA mechanics' vote
BY KYLE ARNOLD World Staff Writer
Sunday, February 17, 2013
2/17/13 at 4:59 AM
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The International Brotherhood of Teamsters union members are making another push to capture American Airlines workers and said Saturday that they have nearly enough support to force a vote on union representation.
American Airlines mechanics, including nearly 5,000 at the Tulsa maintenance base, are just days removed from an announced merger with US Airways to create the world's largest air carrier.
The Teamsters Union, which represents about 18,000 airline mechanics at 10 carriers, says it has nearly enough cards signed to bring a representation dispute to the National Labor Relations Board.
"We are really, really close," said Chris Moore, chairman of the Teamsters Aviation Mechanics Division, at a Saturday press conference. "We are making one more push to make sure that we have enough."
Moore refused to say how many cards have been signed, but he said Teamsters supporters would be making calls this weekend and knocking on doors to gather more cards.
The Transport Workers Union, which now represents AA mechanics, says the Teamsters are raiding American Airlines mechanics during a tumultuous time at the company and that workers would be better represented by their current labor group.
Members of the Transport Workers Union, who lobbied for the deal to bring new leaders to the bankrupt air carrier, negotiated a tentative deal with US Airways in January that would give workers a 4.3 percent pay raise when the deal closes.
The signatures calling for a new election are good for one year, and any challenging labor group needs to bring legitimate cards representing more than 50 percent of a labor group to the National Mediation Board. The federal board could then call for a vote on union representation.
Signing a card doesn't necessarily mean mechanics support the Teamsters over TWU - just that they support a vote among members on the matter.
Teamsters officials say more than half of mechanics at the American Airlines maintenance base have signed on in support, as well as a majority of mechanics at 14 other bases.
Teamsters officials say there are about 11,000 mechanics in American's operations, although that number has been changing through the bankruptcy process and stands to change again with the expected merger in the third quarter of this year.
Teamsters hope to gather more than enough signatures to overcome any legal challenge from TWU or another union.
The Teamsters and their airline mechanic arm have been pushing for a change in union representation for years, particularly when union tensions heightened during tense labor negotiations between the TWU and American Airlines executives.
The Airline Mechanics Fraternal Association is also actively working on a card support drive among American Airlines mechanics, said Louie Key, a spokesman for the labor group.
The Teamsters union says it has about 1.3 million members worldwide in both manual labor and professional positions.
The recent merger announcement doesn't affect current calls for new union representation because it will be about 18 months before the new airlines gets federal clearance to combine airplane maintenance operations.
American Airlines and US Airways officials expect the merger deal to close in about six months.
Kyle Arnold 918-581-8380