Unions have their say on American Airlines' bankruptcy


Unions have their say on American Airlines' bankruptcy


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Posted on May 13, 2012 at 10:41 PM




NEW YORK — The fight to save thousands of jobs begins Monday morning in a New York courtroom. AMR's labor unions will begin making the case to save their contracts.

The bankrupt parent company of American Airlines says it wants to slash 13,000 jobs, laying off pilots, flight attendants, and ground workers.

But of the carrier's three major labor groups, the Transport Workers Union is the closet to saving some positions.

You could call this a "do-or-die" moment for American Airlines' unions as they prepare to argue their case to keep their contracts and save thousands of jobs.

Pilots and flight attendants are expected to present three arguments to the federal bankruptcy judge in New York on Monday:

  • American is asking for cuts far deeper than their colleagues faced at competing airlines. 
  • American Airlines doesn't really know what it wants, calling the current business plan being offered a "placeholder" since the carrier has said a merger could occur even before American exits bankruptcy protection.
  • Pilots say American wants cuts seven times deeper than it asked for before filing for bankruptcy.

The unions argue that American wants to return to profitability at the expense of its employees. Fourteen union witnesses are expected to testify over the next two weeks.

We're also waiting to see whether Transport Workers Union ground workers and mechanics will approve or reject American's "last, best" offer. A final vote tally is expected on Tuesday.

If TWU members approve the offer, the union is expected to remove itself from the bankruptcy hearing; if it fails, ground workers will continue to push for a merger.

But American employees could begin losing jobs soon. The bankruptcy judge is expected to make a decision on union contracts by June 6.

E-mail jwhitely@wfaa.com