American Airlines Mechanics Mull Break From Union

Saturday, July 14th 2012, 9:41 pm
By: Tess Maune

It's turbulent times, as American Airlines charts a flight plan out of bankruptcy.

With the company in the process of reorganizing, some American Airlines employees are hoping to do some reorganizing of their own.

Local mechanics are now talking about breaking away from their union.

American's mechanics are members of the Transport Workers Union, along with dispatchers, cleaning crews, and pilot instructors.

Mechanics rejected a contract offer in May, while most of their fellow TWU members accepted it.

That's why some mechanics say they want to join a union just looking out for mechanics.

For nearly 29 years, Dave Stewart has been fine-tuning his skill as a mechanic for American Airlines.

"Working there, it's been a good job," Stewart said. "I haven't left, you know, it's been a good provider."

But lately, he said, the environment at work has grown dark.

"The future is up in the air, people are concerned and there's job cuts that are gonna be coming that we're not gonna be able to stop," Stewart said.

He said part of that concern stems from their current union representation with the TWU.

"They always go in with a concession for jobs approach and they want the skilled employees to give concessions to keep all the jobs of the unskilled, and so that's what waters down the compensation and the benefit pay package of the skilled individuals."

Stewart said American Airlines' 11,000 mechanics are being coupled with other groups within company that don't have mutual interest.

"Because the nature of unionism and the majority rule, whenever they outnumber the skilled groups, then our compensation is very close to the unskilled and the unaccountable and I believe by decoupling away from those other work groups, that the mechanics will do much better at the negotiating table and in the public opinion.

Stewart says he would like to see American Airlines Mechanics represented by AMFA, The Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association. National officers with AMFA were in town to recruit and talk about their union.

It's an ideal for the aircraft mechanics and technicians having a craft union that represents the aircraft and related employees, so it's something that's not going to go away it only makes sense," Louie Key said.

American Airlines mechanics would have to go through a lengthy process before being considered for approval into another union.