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Latest News - May 2012

May 10, 2012
American Airlines workers press judge to block cuts before union election
Source: Star-Telegram
By: David Mclaughlin

American Airlines, which wants to reduce labor costs while in bankruptcy, should be blocked from cutting pay and benefits of employees about to vote on joining a union, a lawyer for the workers told a judge.

Passenger service agents, including those who book reservations and work at ticket counters at airports, are seeking a court order to prevent AMR from imposing new employment terms with a union-representation election scheduled to begin this month.

"These are events that will dramatically impact the lives of the people in this room," Tom Kennedy, a lawyer for the passenger service agents, told U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Sean Lane in Manhattan today.

American is fighting the employees’ request as it tries to void contracts with union workers and secure $1.25 billion in annual labor savings. American has about 10,000 passenger service agents.

Passenger service agents are scheduled to begin voting May 17 on whether to be represented by the Communication Workers of America. A committee representing the employees said in court papers that the airline wants "to jam the reduction in jobs, wages and benefits down the throats of the PSAs before they have a union to stand up for them."

Lane didn’t rule today on the request.

Under the airline’s proposal, hundreds of passenger service agents would be laid off due to outsourcing, wages would be cut, and more than 800 would be required to move to home-based positions, according to the employee committee.

AMR said in court papers that whether a collective bargaining agreement is ultimately reached with the passenger service agents "is nothing more than pure speculation." The Fort Worth-based airline sued the National Mediation Board on May 2 over the agency’s decision authorizing the election.

The committee of passenger service agents argues American is trying to delay an election it knows it’s "certain to lose." The airline is refusing to supply to the National Mediation Board mailing labels with employee addresses that are needed to conduct the election, it said. The committee wants Lane to order the airline to supply the labels.



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