Tulsa Union Reacts To American Airlines Restructuring Plan

Tuesday, September 11th 2012, 11:08 pm
By: News On 6

American Airlines workers in Tulsa are bracing for more turbulent times Wednesday.

That's when a federal bankruptcy judge will rule on the plan for job losses involving Tulsa's maintenance base, which the company outlined Tuesday. Meanwhile, local union leaders are challenging the number of cuts as excessive.

Union leaders in Tulsa say the number of cuts they agreed to during negotiations does not match the number released Tuesday.

They said they don't think it's malicious, but every job represents a family.

American Airlines' re-organizational plan calls for a couple hundred more job losses in Tulsa than what local union leaders had negotiated.

"When we were negotiating on what work would be left here in Tulsa and how many people it would take to do that work, that's how we came up with the numbers," said John Hewitt, of the Transportation Workers Union Local 514.

9/11/2012 Related Story: Documents Show American Airlines To Cut 993 Workers In Tulsa

In a letter to the union, American stated that 993 jobs are at risk in Tulsa.

The first group would be let go in December and the second group, in February of next year.

Hewitt wouldn't say exactly how many layoffs were originally agreed to.

"We always knew, it's always in our minds that we're dealing with families. It's not just numbers. It's easy to get lost in the numbers, but it's about families," Hewitt said.

The union said early retirement will affect the number of layoffs. Employees can sign up for early retirement through the end of the month. The more Tulsa employees who volunteer, the fewer local layoffs there will be.

"I am unfortunately too old, but still yet too young to do that," said machinist Joe McGill.

McGill has been with the company for 24 years.

Like everyone else at the Tulsa base, he feels he's in a holding pattern.

"You don't have the ability to do anything to go forward with your own life. You have to wait for someone else to make a decision, so that you can make a decision," McGill said.

American Airlines also plans to close the maintenance base at Alliance Airport in Fort Worth and transfer the work done there to Tulsa or DFW Airport.

Tulsa Union leaders asked American to review the number of layoffs and American has agreed to take a second look, but a judge is still ruling Wednesday.

American Airlines declined to comment on the restructuring plan.