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  • Unions Negotiate Immediate Pay Hikes For 30,000 American Airlines Workers
    Updated On: Aug 21, 2016

    By JoAnne Powers, August 15, 2016

    30,000 mechanics and ground workers at American Airlines reached a deal last week for immediate raises.  The raises, up to 55 percent for some workers, give them the highest hourly rates for a major U.S. airline.  The increase was approved separately from a contract that is still in negotiations between the airline and an association of the Transport Workers Union and the International Association of Machinists.  Sean Doyle, a 32-year veteran at the airline, is International Vice President for the Transport Workers’ Union:

    [Sean Doyle]: “We consider this a victory for every association member at American Airlines.  This interim agreement provides significant raises to our members who have sacrificed so much through the years.  They richly deserve this increase, and we will continue to fight for a strong contract that restores the dignity on the job and respect on the job.”

    James Carlson of the Machinists Union says the Association pushed for the immediate raises because bringing 30,000 workers under one contract following the merger of the airlines is a very complex and time-consuming process:

    [James Carlson]: “Joint contract negotiations after mergers aren't traditional negotiations that occur under the Railway Labor Act and they typically take a very long time. Our members shouldn't have to wait for the increased wages that they deserve.  As each week of negotiations passed by they were losing money. So, we didn't think that was right, and American came to the table and they were a willing partner and we got it done.”

    Carlson says the union considers every opportunity to make the lives of their members better:

    [James Carlson]: “And if that means getting money up front, well, then we'll do that if we can. Just recently on United Airlines, we opened up contracts about a year before they were amendable, and we were able to negotiate significant increases in wages, pension and job security.”

    TWU’s Doyle says airline wages have been stagnating for years, and American Airlines workers have given huge concessions over the last decade and a half:

    [Sean Doyle]: “Since 9-11 we have been through quite a bit here in the airline industry as a whole.  In 2003 we gave voluntary concessions to try to keep American Airlines out of bankruptcy.  Obviously, the economy continued to not go in the right direction.  American Airlines ended up in bankruptcy; we took significant concessions again.  It’s been quite an ordeal for the employees for the last fifteen years.  Now with the company making record profits, it’s time for American Airlines to step up and recognize the employees’ sacrifices across the board.”

    In addition to wages, the TWU-IAM Association negotiated enhancements to the pension plans and job security for all employees.  IAM’s Carlson stressed that they can still negotiate additional wage and pension increases as part of the joint contract:

    [James Carlson]: “So, we're not done, by any means.  Now we have what our members deserve as far as wage rates. They're at the top of the industry. Now it's a question of how far more ahead should we go.”

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