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Tulsa County Leaders Pull Together To Retain American Airlines

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Secretary of Commerce Dave Lopez speaks to the news media. Secretary of Commerce Dave Lopez speaks to the news media.
The American Airlines Maintenance base employs about 7,000 workers. The American Airlines Maintenance base employs about 7,000 workers.
Tulsa County Commissioner John Smaligo says retaining jobs is a non partisan issue. Tulsa County Commissioner John Smaligo says retaining jobs is a non partisan issue.
TULSA, Oklahoma -

A group made up of political, business and union leaders used the first business day of the new year to show a united front and send a strong message to American Airlines' corporate leaders. 

As the airline goes through bankruptcy, no one is sure how that might impact Tulsa's maintenance facility and the more than 6,500 people who work there.

The attendance list of political, business and union leaders at the news conference was long. And behind the podium, there was barely enough room for all of them to stand.

But that's part of what this group is trying to get across to American Airlines corporate leaders. 

"We understand the need for us to speak with one voice, one united voice," said Mayor Dewey Bartlett.

The group made up of leaders from Tulsa and surrounding communities, state representatives and Tulsa County Commissioners, area Chambers of Commerce and business leaders hope to show that united front in effort to reinforce American Airlines' value to Tulsa and the area.

"Clearly this is a non partisan issue and one that spans all levels of government," said John Smaligo, Tulsa County Commissioner.

"My message today is, 'American we want you; we're here to help and to do what we can to keep you here,'" said State Senator Pro Tem Brian Bingman.

American Airlines' Tulsa maintenance and repair base employs more than 6,500 people. The Tulsa Metro Chamber estimates the base also supports more than 3,600 additional jobs in the area economy.

"It's too early to speculate," said Mike Neal, Tulsa Metro Chamber."But a Chapter 11 filing to reorganize American Airlines, potentially has untold impact."

AMR, American Airlines' parent company hopes to reduce labor costs through the bankruptcy and reduce debt.

Sam Cirri is the President of the Transport Workers Union Local 514. 

"I can't tell you what's going to happen with the jobs; I can't tell you what's going to happen with our benefits, until we sit down and we meet," Cirri said.

No one is certain what that will mean yet, but Cirri says the show of support is important and appreciated.  

"Look around you here today," said Sam Cirri, TWU Local president. "In Oklahoma. Look what's going on. Nobody is sitting on their hands considering this issue."

Secretary of Commerce Dave Lopez and Tulsa Chamber of Commerce Mike Neal were two of the speakers at Tuesday's news conference.

1/2/2011 Related Story: American Airlines' AMR Shares To Be Dropped From NYSE Trading

American Airlines CEO Tom Horton announced on November 29, 2011, that the company was filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy. He said there will be some shrinkage of the workforce, but he believed it would be modest.

 

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