American Airlines staff ratify last post-US Airways contract six years after merger
Mechanics and other ground staff at American Airlines have overwhelmingly ratified a new labor accord, the last such group to do so since the carrier's 2013 merger with US Airways.
The more than 31,000 staff represented by the TWU-IAM Association — including mechanics, fleet service and stores employees — ratified the five-year agreement by a resounding more than 90% in favor on Wednesday, the union said. The vote puts appears to end the contentious relationship between the workgroups and American, which accused them of a work slowdown amid stalled negotiations last spring.
The deal, which American and the union reached in January, includes wage and work rule improvements. It also limits the amount of maintenance work the airline can outsource to third parties, and offshore to airline-owned facilities outside of the U.S.
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"This agreement is a long-awaited milestone for our company," David Sevmour, senior vice president of operations at American, said in a letter to staff on Thursday. "[It] marks the first time that all our represented team members... will be working under joint agreements. We look forward to streamlining our operation and delivering better and more reliable service to our customers than ever before."
The contract vote took place as American continues to wind down the majority of its operation amid plummeting demand in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic. The airline is in the process of parking hundreds of jets, including retiring its Boeing 757s and 767s early, at airports across the country, including in Pittsburgh, Tulsa and Mobile, Alabama.
Maintenance staff need to remain in locations where aircraft are parked to keep them in working order and ready to return to service when demand returns.
Related: American Airlines’ long-standing mechanics dispute may be in the past
American CEO Doug Parker told staff in a video message Thursday that a pending $50 billion aid package would help American bridge the COVID-19 crisis. The funds, of which the airline could be eligible for up to $12 billion, would cover employee compensation as well as other fixed costs to keep the company in business.
"These are... extraordinarily difficult times," said Parker. "There are going to be fewer hours available to work for many of our team members , and many of our groups are going to be at minimum paid hours for the next few months."
Hourly reductions that will undoubtedly impact the staff who just ratified a new contract, as well as many others at American.
Related: American, Southwest Airlines CEOs differ on plans for $50B aid package