FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Thousands of maintenance and ground workers from American Airlines are expected to picket at DFW International Airport on Wednesday in response to a contract issue.
Workers said that, after American Airlines rose out of bankruptcy in 2014 and merged with US Airways, maintenance workers and fleet service workers on the ground never received a new contract with the new company. And, while the airline has made money, labor leaders have watched maintenance jobs go overseas and ground jobs go to contract workers.
American Airlines has moved aircraft maintenance — as much as 35 percent, according to labor sources — to Brazil and China, while other tasks have been outsourced to separate companies. “We had cabin cleaning. We had cabin security. They’re talking now about outsourcing some piece of the maintenance work our guys do,” said Local 513 vice president Greg Cosey.
Employees are afraid that these jobs will continue to disappear.
“I get it,” Cosey said. “Things change, the airline industry has changed, and we tried to adapt along with it.”
“We thought it was going to be good — share the pain, share the gain — and we haven’t seen that,” added TWU air transport division director Mike Mayes.
In a statement released on Tuesday, American Airlines said, “We have a shared goal with the TWU-IAM Association to make sure our team members are well-compensated and work for a company that values them immensely. That was the motivation for last summer’s unprecedented pay raises outside of negotiations.”
That pay raise was in the area of 20 percent for most members.
However, workers said that this fight is not about pay. It is about a contract that will protect future jobs and paychecks. Sides have been negotiating over a new labor contract for more than a year and a half, and those talks will not stop. Even with picket lines planned, negotiations are continuing this week.
“It’s not about the pay. It’s about everything that goes around the pay,” said Cosey. Those issues include work rules, benefits, holidays, vacation time and sick time. “It’s about those types of things. It’s about benefits. It’s about the future of our members really.”
Both sides have said that progress has been difficult due to employees being under different agreements. Some workers from US Airways are still operating under that company’s old contract rules, creating complex situations to negotiate for one single new contract.
The protest is scheduled to begin at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday morning. The picket line and strike should not have any impact on American Airlines flights, though the company’s pilots, flight attendants and gate workers have all offered support for their fellow employees. Some of them will even join the picket line in front of Terminal D on Wednesday.