"What do we want? A contract!"
American Airlines has proposed paying its mechanics and ground crew workers 3 percent more than their counterparts at Delta Air Lines.
The pay proposal, part of a contract offer American presented to union leaders in July, was included in a letter sent to 30,000 ground workers by the Fort Worth-based airline Friday.
“We aren’t presenting a low-ball offer knowing that more benefits would be added after rounds of back and forth at the table,” the company said in the letter. “We want you to have an overall industry-leading contract and have put forward a proposal that would do just that.”
Almost four years since American merged with US Airways, the workers who fix planes, handle baggage and repair jet bridges don’t have a joint contract. The company and union have been meeting throughout the year and are set to meet again next week.
On average, ground workers earn between $10 to $25 an hour, depending on seniority, while mechanics earn between $22 and $52 an hour, depending on seniority. A year ago, under an interim agreement, mechanics received pay raises ranging from 15 to 36 percent while ground workers received 24 percent pay raises, following several years with no wage hikes.
“The union membership knows better than to trust bullet points from American Airlines as the basis of their collective bargaining agreement,” TWU Local 591 President Gary Peterson said. “American Airlines has failed to deliver on their promise, to their employees, of the best contract in the industry."
Unions representing other workers at American, such as pilots and flight attendants, have already secured new contracts.
American said negotiators with the Transport Workers Union-International Association of Machinists Association, which represents the workers, have not responded to the proposal presented last month. The company says the union has indicated it will not respond to the proposal until early October.
The proposal includes double-time pay for working holidays, an automatic 3 percent contribution to 401(k) plans with an additional 6 percent employer match, and job protections for all existing workers. American reiterated that it will keep fleet service work at 40 stations across the network in-house but plans to outsource de-icing operations and shift some facility maintenance to third-party vendors.
“While some elements may not seem as favorable as a similar provision at another airline, what’s on the table is an industry-leading contract overall that would cost American significantly more than implementing either the Delta or United contracts,” American said in the letter.
American has generated billions in profits since its merger with US Airways, and union leaders say the company can afford to pay its mechanics and ground workers top dollar. They’re also concerned that the company will outsource more maintenance jobs overseas.