Teamsters seek election to represent American mechanics

Posted Tuesday, May. 28, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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The International Brotherhood of Teamsters has filed papers with the National Mediation Board seeking a representation election for American Airlines mechanics.

American has more than 11,000 mechanics and related positions currently represented by the Transport Workers Union. But in recent months, the Teamsters have been campaigning to oust the TWU from American.

“After enduring 20 years of concessions, outsourced jobs, bankruptcy, frozen pensions and an overall lack of respect, we are coming together to bring in the bargaining power of the Teamsters Union, which has the strongest record representing mechanics in our industry,” said Bill Wheeler, an American mechanic.

The Teamsters made a similar filing to represent 3,200 mechanics at US Airways earlier this month. US Airways mechanics are currently represented by the International Association of Machinists.

The fight among the unions comes as US Airways and American are seeking government approval for their proposed merger. The mechanics union, along with other major unions, agreed to new cost-cutting contracts as part of the Fort Worth-based carrier’s bankruptcy case.

The National Mediation Board, which oversees union representation elections, will review the Teamsters’ application to verify that the union collected authorization cards from over 50 percent of the mechanics and related employees at American. If it is determined that the Teamsters met the requirement, a vote will be set for later this year.

Garry Drummond, the TWU’s international air transport director, criticized the move, saying the Teamsters have allowed airlines to outsource mechanics’ jobs to China.

“Changing unions is particularly risky while all the critical issues connected with establishing one agreement with uniform rates of pay and working conditions still must be negotiated as part of the American-US Airways merger,” Drummond said. “Many mechanics signed cards calling for an election between unions because they believe in democracy. Ironically, a vote for the Teamsters means that democracy would be suspended.”

The Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association is also courting American’s mechanics but has yet to file for a union representation vote with federal mediators.

American Airlines spokesman Paul Flaningan said its workers have the right to choose which union represents them.

"We hope our mechanics will examine the options and take the time to vote on the path they believe is best for them, their families, and the company," Flaningan said.

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

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