Government's Lawsuit Against Airlines Leaves Tulsa Workers In Limbo

Tuesday, August 13th 2013, 5:22 pm
By: News On 6

The U.S. government is trying to block the merger between American Airlines and US Airways. The Department of Justice filed an antitrust lawsuit Tuesday, challenging the $11 billion merger.

More than 4,000 people who work at Tulsa's maintenance base are counting on that merger to save their jobs.

Union leaders say this lawsuit came out of left field, but they are willing to do whatever it takes to make sure the merger is completed.

Employees at Tulsa American Airline's maintenance base were looking forward to the company coming out of bankruptcy and merging with US Airways. But Tuesday morning, they were dealt quite the blow when the Department of Justice and Attorneys General from six states, including the District of Columbia, announced they had filed suit in efforts to stop the merger.

8/13/2013 Related Story: American, US Airways Vow To Fight For Proposed Merger

"It's a shock to all of us, that's the best way to put it," said Local 514 President Dale Danker.

He said union members endured American's bankruptcy and were expecting raises and stock options this fall, but this lawsuit puts all of that in jeopardy.

"Everything that our guys have hung their hat on and hoped for, if this merger doesn't go through, everything is going to have to be revisited," Danker said.

The Department of Justice said the American Airlines/US Airways merger would create the world's largest airline, a move that would be bad news for travelers.

In a statement, Bill Baer of the DOJ said, "If this merger goes forward, even a small increase in the price of airline tickets, checked bags or flight change fees would result in hundreds of millions of dollars of harm to American consumers."

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

American Airlines and US Airways released their own statement, saying the merger would provide more flights and stabilize thousands of jobs.

"We believe that the DOJ is wrong in its assessment of our merger. Integrating the complementary networks of American and US Airways to benefit passengers is the motivation for bringing these airlines together," the statement read.

Tulsa union leaders say the DOJ's lawsuit is disappointing and they'll do what's necessary to preserve the merger.

"We're going to try to do the best job that we can do. We're going to help American Airlines fight what the Department of Justice is trying to do. If they ask us to help we're going to help," Danker said.

Danker said he's been told the lawsuit will delay raises and new contracts until at least December.

Mayor Dewey Bartlett issued this statement in response to the lawsuit:

"The lawsuit filed against the American Airlines/US Airways merger is a late and irresponsible challenge by the Obama Administration. Ironically, I believe that if American Airlines had asked for a bailout, the Obama Administration would have already given it to them. But, American Airlines didn't ask for a bailout, they along with US Airways, want to solve their problems in the free market and President Obama wants to stand in the way. Has President Obama done enough to slow our economy? He continues to harm free market solutions with government intervention into free market affairs."

The DOJ says if the merger goes through, only four airlines will control more than 80 percent of the air travel in the United States.

American Airlines: Turbulent Times