Tulsa Transport Workers Union Rejects American Airlines Contract

Tuesday, August 24th 2010, 5:55 pm
By: News On 6

By Dan Bewley, The News On 6

TULSA, OKLAHOMA – American Airlines union members in Tulsa are one step closer to striking after rejecting a new contract Tuesday, August 24, 2010.

The deal would have included signing bonuses, salary increases, and holiday pay. But it also would have reduced some benefits for employees under 50 years old and turn the Tulsa maintenance base into a 24/7 operation.

Two of the union's three units voted against the contract.  Their "no" vote authorizes a strike, if necessary.

"Our members have spoken loud and clear," said TWU International Vice President Garry Drummond, who heads the union's Air Transport Division. "After four years of negotiations, a majority of TWU members in our Mechanic and Related, and Stock Clerk groups were not convinced that this agreement represented an adequate return for the hundreds of millions of dollars of sacrifices we agreed to in 2003, to keep American planes in the air and prevent our employer from filing for bankruptcy.

American Airlines does business with 160 suppliers across Oklahoma.  One industry analyst is worried what a strike would do to the rest of the state.

"Every job at American then translates into spending in the community whether it's taxes or just buying products and services but also the business they do with all those other companies," said Mary Smith, Oklahoma Aerospace Alliance. "So, all of that, it has a big ripple effect."

"We will continue our efforts, on all fronts, to make sure that the full value of our members' contribution to the success of this airline is recognized by our employer," said Drummond.

The two sides could go back to the bargaining table. The union could also ask mediators to declare an impasse and a 30-day cooling off period.