Mechanics Vote Down American Airlines' 'Last, Best' Contract Offer

Tuesday, May 15th 2012, 7:58 am
By: News On 6

Members of the Transport Workers Union Local 514 say the union has voted down American Airlines' last, best contract offer.  But the national union says five of seven units it represents actually approved the offer.

The five bargaining units represent Fleet Service Clerks, Dispatchers, Ground School Instructors, Maintenance Control Technicians and Simulator Technicians all voted "yes."

Aircraft Maintenance and Related workers along with Stores Clerks voted to reject the offer.

"I'm very worried," TWU International Organizer Rick Mullings said. "It's hard to represent somebody if you don't have a contract in place."

Rick Mullings was disappointed to hear the news Tuesday morning that the aircraft maintenance workers and stores clerks rejected American Airlines latest contract offer.

"I think it shows that they are very upset and very tired of working with American Airlines," Mullings said.

The contract offer was approved by five of seven TWU workgroups across the country. But Tulsa's two largest groups were part of the two groups that rejected it.

Tulsa union leaders say they don't have the numbers to show how each local union voted but they expect that union members in Tulsa voted to accept the offer and that other locals in Chicago, Florida, and New York were enough to turn it down.

The offer would have saved close to 1300 jobs in Tulsa. Now American can ask a bankruptcy judge to void its contract and implement a new one without union approval.

"I don't know where we're going to go from here, how bad it's going to get," TWU Board member Joe McGill said.

American released a statement Tuesday morning saying:

"We are disappointed that the Mechanic & Related and Stores workgroups did not ratify the company's latest settlement proposals. American will move forward with implementation of the March 22 term sheets, which do not offer the job savings and improvements offered in the settlement proposals."

Local union leaders aren't sure what steps they'll take next but they want their members to know that the fight isn't over.

"I guess all I can ask them to do is to hang in there," McGill said. "We'll do the best we can and we hope we can keep the doors open, keep that base running."

Union members began voting last Thursday on whether to accept Americans' last offer. Last Wednesday, Tulsa union leaders did not make a recommendation for which way members should vote, but explained what to expect with either option.

5/9/2012 Related Story: Tulsa Area Leaders Urge TWU Local To Take American Airlines' Offer

Members voted by Internet and telephone, and the balloting was certified by the firm BallotPoint Election Services. 

The Tulsa Chamber and Tulsa's mayor reacted to the release of the vote totals Tuesday.

Mike Neal, president and CEO of the Tulsa Metro Chamber:

"We are disappointed by the Maintenance and Related workgroup's decision to reject the latest contract offer from American Airlines. Turning down this proposal could alter the future of the American Airlines Tulsa MRO-base, including the potential loss more than 2,100 jobs at the facility. 

However, we will continue to work towards the best outcome for the most number of people at the Tulsa facility. The Chamber and its regional partners will find workable solutions to keep the region's aerospace industry thriving, including aggressively marketing our valued aerospace facilities and highly-skilled workforce to prepare for work that could ultimately be lost during this restructuring process."

Tulsa Mayor Dewey F. Bartlett, Jr.:

"As our region continues to focus on aviation and aerospace as a major sector in economic development, we need to ensure that the City of Tulsa-owned facilities in use by American Airlines are competitive on a national level and beyond. The Tulsa International Airport must have modern facilities. These facilities will require investment and modernization to keep them competitive with the demands of the global aviation and aerospace industry."

Here are the national vote totals according to the union:

Voting "Yes":

Fleet Services
Yes: 3,872 (59%)
No: 2,722

Yes:  134 (92%)
No: 12

Ground School Instructors:
Yes: 126 (96%)
No: 5

Maintenance Control Technicians:
Yes: 72 (84%)
No: 14

Simulator Technicians:
Yes: 53 (85%)
No: 9

Voting "No":

Stores Clerks:
Yes: 495
No: 521 (51%)

Maintenance and Related:
Yes: 4,179
No: 5,307 (56%)

Read more about American Airlines' bankruptcy by visiting our special page.