Mechanics, ground workers unions at American and US Airways agree to seniority list rules

Posted Tuesday, Apr. 30, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Unions representing mechanics, fleet service and stock clerk workers at American Airlines and US Airways have agreed on how to form seniority lists for workers at the combined carrier.

According to union documents, the Transport Workers Union and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace workers have agreed to use a “date of entry” into a basic work group to determine where employees fall on an integrated seniority list. The Machinists Union represents 8,600 workers at US Airways, and the Transport Workers Union represents 22,000 workers at American. But not all are covered by this agreement.

“TWU believes this agreement will protect the rights of our members and all employees at the merged airline,” Robert Gless, deputy director of the Transport Workers Air Transport Division said in a statement, adding that it sets the stage for a successful merger between the carriers.

The lists will be based on when an employee was placed into a work group classification that is currently outlined in the union contracts. If two or more employees have the same date of entry, seniority will be determined by the date they were hired. If that is the same, seniority will be determined by the last four digits of the employee’s Social Security numbers.

Employees will also not be able to displace others from a position as the result of the integration. The seniority lists will not be integrated until after a single union contract is negotiated with the newly merged carrier, according to the documents, dated Wednesday.

The Transport Workers Union said it would try to work out a seniority integration process within four months of the merger announcement, and the unions hammered out an agreement within 21/2 months. The seniority agreement affects 25,000 workers at the two airlines, the documents said.

Both carriers applauded the agreement, saying it’s another positive step in completing their merger.

“This agreement was reached ahead of the deadline included in the TWU’s Memorandum of Understanding, and represents significant progress as we continue to move toward closing our merger with US Airways,” American spokesman Paul Flaningan said.

Seniority agreements still need to be reached by the pilots and flight attendants unions and the merger requires approval from government regulators and US Airways shareholders. The airlines expect the merger to close in the third quarter.

Both unions are part of the AFL-CIO and were encouraged by its President Richard Trumka to come to an agreement. A union representation fight is already brewing as the Teamsters and the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association try to represent all the mechanics at the merged carrier.

“I am urging you to consider a more constructive approach, one in which both unions will share representation rights at the merged airline, with each union retaining its basic pre-merger membership,” Trumka wrote in a letter to the Transport Workers and Machinists presidents. “This approach seems to me the only one which will avoid either union feeling that it is being or has been raided and will generate the kind of harmony that we need for acting together in labor's best interest, and which will guarantee that labor's organizing dollars in the next year are not devoted to unions fighting one another.”

Andrea Ahles, 817-390-7631 Twitter: @Sky_Talk

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