American Airlines Mechanics Rally For Break From TWU

Saturday, September 22nd 2012, 6:29 pm
By: Tess Maune

As American Airlines warns of future layoffs, a group of mechanics is rallying support so they break away from their current union and join another.

In a room full of American Airlines mechanics, one goal is echoed: Ready for change.

"I want to see the airline mechanic [field] become a strong industry again," AA mechanic Tom Schlabaugh said.

Mechanics at American have been members of the Transport Workers Union since the 1940s.

But those in support of the changing unions said the TWU doesn't understand their wants or needs in a contract.

"I feel like we're being taken advantage of, that representation is not in touch with the workforce out there and that they don't understand what we're going through," AA mechanic Kevin Melone said.

9/23/2012 Related Story: Teamsters Union Reps In Tulsa To Meet With AA Mechanics

Workers said over the past 10 years they've watched wages and benefits drop, and they claim the TWU is allowing their jobs to be sent overseas.

"The union we have now, they're watching our jobs go away," Schlabaugh said. "We've signed a contract that gives away 35 percent of the work we currently have."

The Teamsters represent more than 80,000 workers throughout the airline industry, and 18,000 of those are mechanics.

Representatives for the Teamsters say their major focus is to stop foreign outsourcing.

"[To] show the government and the flying public how much higher quality you get when you keep thing in-house," said Chris Moore, of the Teamsters Airline Maintenace Division.

Earlier this week, almost 3,000 American Airlines employees in Tulsa learned they may lose their jobs as the airline restructures to pull out of bankruptcy.

Employees say each day they go in to work fearful they will leave without a job.

"We don't know what's going to happen, so the morale out there is terrible," AA mechanic Roger Tylkowski said.

Workers say their hope now is to gain the momentum needed to keep the legacy of American Airline mechanics alive and strong for many more years to come.

About a dozen American Airlines mechanics spent the day making house calls to fellow employees to pull in more support for the Teamsters.

Before they can request to change unions, they would need the support of more than 50 percent of mechanics.