American reaches agreement with TWU groups

Washington DC
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American Airlines has ratified new contracts with five ground services groups represented by the Transport Workers Union (TWU), avoiding the airline's request to annul the existing contracts as part of its chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings.

Fleet service clerks approved the contract by a 59% margin, dispatchers by 92%, ground school instructors by 96%, maintenance control technicians by 84% and simulator technicians by 85%, according to the union.

The airline says that the contracts will save 1,300 jobs among the groups, which represent 11,000 of its employees.

"Today's ratification announcement demonstrates American's willingness to address the TWU's interests and the union's willingness to negotiate new contracts that achieve the cost savings needed for our successful restructuring," says American in a statement.

Reducing labour costs is a central focus of the airline's bankruptcy. American claimed that these costs were about $800 million more than other US legacy carriers annually in its bankruptcy filing in November 2011. It filed a motion to reject the contracts with the TWU, as well as its pilot and flight attendant unions, in March.

Not all of the groups represented by the TWU approved new contracts with American. Maintenance and related employees voted to reject the agreement by a 56% margin and stores clerks by 51%.

The airline says that it will continue the section 1113 bankruptcy process to annul its existing contracts with these groups.

"Our goal from the start has been to create options for our members and to give our members a voice in the bankruptcy process," says James Little, president of TWU International, in a statement. "We respect our members' decision regardless of how they voted."