Transport Workers Union members in the Mechanics and Related and Storage work groups have voted to accept a tentative agreement with American Airlines.
The new agreement reportedly saves more than a thousand jobs in Tulsa, but Tulsa could still face as many as 1300 jobs because of AA cutbacks. American's parent company, AMR, filed for bankruptcy back in November. Since then negotiations have been going back and forth between union groups.
Breakdown of the official vote:
STORAGE WORKERS VOTED:
Union members who talked to FOX23 News mostly expressed relief at the outcome of the vote. But it wasn't all smiles around the TWU Local 514 hall Wednesday.
"I'd like to say it's a happy day, but it's not," John Hewitt, Chairman of Maintenance for the TWU, said. "It is a very difficult decision our members had to make."
A bankruptcy judge is expected to sign off on the agreements as early as next week.
"That's when the difficult part really starts, because that's when people actually are affected in real life and not just on paper," Hewitt said.
Hewitt said American Airlines leadership believes it will take six to nine months for the airline to implement the bankruptcy restructuring plan.
"There's no reason to celebrate," Tony Bunch, mechanic and TWU Local 514 Executive Board Member, said. "There's still people that...our members, guy and girls that I work next to that are going to be affected. And I don't look forward to that."
The vote was clearly a tough decision for mechanics. More than 9,500 of them voted, but the agreement passed by only 48 votes.
"It's a difficult time for everyone out here, even the people that manage to stay," Bunch said. "It's going to be tough on everybody, and hopefully we can just hold our heads up and comfort everybody and try to help them in any way we can."
"I would like to say that somebody won today, but nobody here in Tulsa's going to win in bankruptcy," Hewitt said.
President of the Tulsa Metro Chamber, Mike Neal, released the following statement about the vote:
“We are pleased the majority of the Maintenance and Related workgroup members have voted to accept the last best contract offer from American Airlines. Their positive action has saved 1,800 jobs and could pave the way for the future success of the Tulsa maintenance base. We realize this was a difficult vote, as the agreement does stipulate job cuts. We commend the TWU members for casting the hard vote with much thought and consideration to their colleagues who ultimately will lose their jobs.
The Chamber and our regional partners stand ready to assist any displaced workers. While aviation and aerospace remain key industry sectors in the region’s economic development success, it is the human capital, our highly-skilled workforce, which allows these industries to thrive. We will intensely focus our resources toward the present and future economic and human well-being of displaced workers and their families.”
American Airlines spokesman, Bruce Hicks, released the following statement about the vote:
“Today’s ratification of the Mechanic & Related and Stores agreements is an important step forward in our restructuring. We know these were difficult decisions, and we appreciate our people taking the time to voice their opinions through the voting process. The ratified agreements will help American reach our targeted cost savings and increase productivity and network flexibility, while preserving nearly 1,900 TWU jobs that would have been eliminated under the original term sheets and offering pay increases for TWU employees. With today’s news, we now have ratified agreements with all seven TWU-represented workgroups representing approximately 24,000 employees, which is meaningful progress in moving forward together as we build the new American.”