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Economy, Energy, Natural Resources: Policy to People

American Airlines Contract Approval Saves Jobs, Starts Clock on Tulsa Layoffs

Joe Snack / Flickr

The vote by American Airlines’ mechanics and stores clerks to approve a new labor contract is expected to save about 1,400 jobs at the maintenance base in Tulsa.

“… but it will start the clock on layoffs of 770 local mechanics,” officials tell the Tulsa World. Layoffs could start in six to nine months.

While Transport Workers Union stores clerks voted overwhelmingly to approve the contract, ratification from mechanics was “razor-thin,” reports the paper’s D.R. Stewart: 50.25 percent to 49.75 percent — a 48-vote margin.

Provisions of the contracts ratified by the two work groups include 15 percent wage increases over six years, improved health care coverage compared with previous offers, market wage readjustment, based on industry compensation, after 36 months, and the ability to reopen full contract negotiations after four years, the World reports. The M&R contract also permits the company to outsource up to 35 percent of aircraft maintenance now performed in house.

Meanwhile, the Allied Pilots Association soundly rejected a proposed contract by the bankrupt airline, which an expert tells Bloomberg Businessweek is a sign that pilots favor a merger with US Airways.

But the mixed voting results probably won’t slow down the airline’s bankruptcy restructuring, the paper’s John Stancavage reports.

Parent AMR Corp. likely will complete its Chapter 11 reorganization in the first quarter of 2013, said Bob Herbst, owner of the consulting firm AirlineFinancials.com and a veteran commercial pilot. That might be a little longer than airline CEO Thomas Horton envisioned when the carrier filed for protection from creditors Nov. 29, 2011.

In May, five of TWU’s seven workgroups approved a new labor contract; the mechanics and stores clerks rejected the carrier’s offer. The flight attendants’ vote ends Aug. 19.


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