Workers at American Airlines in Tulsa feel like they are in a no win situation when it comes to saving the airline from bankruptcy

Thursday, April 3rd 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Many American Airlines workers are upset with their tentative agreement with the company to avoid bankruptcy. Because they say the management isn't taking as big of a pay cut as they are. But they are still likely to approve the deal.

News on 6 business reporter Steve Berg says the workers say American has a gun to their head, namely the fate of the huge maintenance base in Tulsa. Union leaders say American has told them that if workers don't agree to take a huge pay cut, 17.5%, American will declare bankruptcy and try to carve up the Tulsa base and sell off big chunks.

The union says American has threatened to sell off the Turbine building division, the biggest part of the plant, with General Electric as a possible buyer.

The Composite division would likely be snapped up by Nordam, which has long been interested in buying it, according to the union.

And they say American would also put the APU division on the chopping block with prospective buyers unknown. The three divisions represent thousands of workers at the plant, and the union fears that with a bankruptcy, American could get approval from a judge to make sweeping layoffs.

To avoid bankruptcy, all the union workers from the highest paid to the lowest will take a 17.5% pay cut. They say that's not fair because the lowest paid management is only taking a 4% cut and 15% for the highest paid, still below the 17.5% cut of the blue-collar worker.

Some say American is playing hardball and taking advantage of the financial crisis to dismantle years of union gains. But they say if they don't go along, it would be the factory that will be dismantled. Of course that would be devastating not just for the workers, but also for the city of Tulsa.

The union is going to have a meeting on Saturday with its members to talk about the situation. A vote could come within a few days.