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American says 400 TWU workers apply for retirement, leave

American Airlines said 400 employees represented by the Transport Workers Union have applied for early retirement or leaves, and that the carrier has extended the deadline on those offers by one week.

American is trying to reduce the number of involuntary layoffs as it cuts 1,300 mechanic and maintenance positions and 200 management and support staff jobs. The Fort Worth-based carrier is eliminating about 6,840 jobs and grounding 103 planes to stem losses from record fuel costs.

“We would like to encourage everyone eligible to take a moment and seriously consider these options as a far better solution than the involuntary reduction in force, which follows,” Fred Cleveland, vice president for base maintenance, and two other managers said in a letter to workers Friday.

The airline next week will begin sending federally required notices to workers about possible layoffs, the letter said.

The Transport Workers Union is the largest at American, representing 25,000 workers in seven groups. Employees who belong to the union include mechanics, ramp workers, bag handlers and flight dispatchers.

About 900 American flight attendants accepted similar offers, eliminating the need for involuntary layoffs. The airline is negotiating incentives with its pilots union.