American Airlines Union Members Petition Justice Department To Stop Lawsuit

Thursday, August 29th 2013, 2:31 pm
By: News On 6

Union workers at American Airlines in Tulsa are calling on the government to back off.

Members of the Transport Workers Union gathered on the steps of the federal building Thursday, carrying petitions filled with more than 10,000 signatures gathered in just a couple of weeks.

They hope this petition, and others like it, will Force the Department of Justice to drop its lawsuit against the merger of American Airlines and US Airways.

Right as American Airlines prepared to fly out of bankruptcy by merging with US Airways, the Justice Department stepped in.

"For this to come out of left field by Eric Holder was a bit frightening to say the least," said local TWU President Dale Danker.

8/13/2013 Related Story: Justice Department Challenges American Airlines/US Airways Merger

The Attorney General filed a lawsuit against what would become the nation's largest airline earlier this month. The court filing claims the $11 billion merger would result in four airlines controlling 80 percent of air traffic, potentially driving up prices.

Danker doesn't buy that.

"Merging with US Air is our best way forward to compete with United and Delta," Danker said.

He said American Airlines deserves the same treatment as United and Delta, which were allowed their own mergers.

"If we're not allowed to merge, we can't grow, and you're either growing or going backwards," Danker said.

Union members, like Jay Potter, say the signatures they handed over Thursday are about saving Tulsa jobs, and potentially creating new ones.

8/13/2013 Related Story: Government's Lawsuit Against Airlines Leaves Tulsa Workers In Limbo

"For example, US Airways doesn't really do any component work or landing gear work, and we do a lot of that work here in Tulsa," Potter said.

TWU said this is just the first of many events like this that will happen over the coming weeks. They said there are workers in nine different states with ties to American Airlines, working to get petitions signed right now.

TWU members anticipated raises and stock options this fall, but this lawsuit puts all of that in jeopardy.

Danker said, if the merger is stopped, American Airlines might have to go back through the bankruptcy process to figure out a Plan "B."

"You either grow or slowly die, and how is that good for the US economy?" Danker said.

A bankruptcy judge says he's likely to approve AMR's exit plan, but that decision could be voided by this lawsuit.

Friday, a US District Court judge will set a trial date for the Department of Justice's lawsuit against the proposed merger.

American Airlines: Turbulent Times