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American Airlines planes line up at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix. On Monday, a federal judge ordered unions representing mechanics for the airlines to avoid interfering with operations. AP file

FORT WORTH, Texas — American Airlines has scored a victory in court over two unions representing mechanics who the airline says are taking part in an illegal work slowdown.

A federal judge issued a permanent injunction Monday, ordering the unions to tell workers to take all steps to avoid interfering with American’s operations.

U.S. District Court Judge Charles McBryde found merit in statistics compiled by American showing that starting earlier this year, workers began taking longer to fix planes and delayed more tasks. The only reasonable explanation was that mechanics were acting deliberately to gain leverage in contract negotiations, the judge wrote.

Defendants’ members “changed their normal working behavior in a concerted fashion,” McBryde wrote.

American sued the Transport Workers Union and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers in May. The unions denied wrongdoing.

The permanent injunction affects workers in Tulsa, which is home to American Airlines’ largest maintenance base. Founded in 1946, Tech Ops-Tulsa handles aircraft overhaul and component and avionics repair, employing 5,200 people.

“For Tulsa, our guys strive to put work out,” said Dale Danker, president of TWU Local 514 in Tulsa. “It won’t have an impact that I can see because our guys are doing their job.”

TWU-IAM Association represents about 31,000 American employees, mostly mechanics and fleet service workers. Since the late 2015 merger of American, which had TWU contracts, and US Airways, which had IAM contracts, joint contracts have not been negotiated.

Danker is among those scheduled to be briefed by union attorneys Thursday in Washington, D.C., where the National Mediation Board is expected to meet separately with union leaders and American Airlines reps.

“I hope it ends up being an impact that we can go forward in negotiations,” Danker said. “Let us get back to the negotiating table and end this four-year long, drawn-out negotiation.”

Southwest also sued its mechanics’ union this year, then settled on a new contract.


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