American Airlines employs around 8,000 people in Tulsa, most of them at the maintenance base in Northeast Tulsa. 5,600 Tulsa workers are represented by unions. American's mechanics are represented by Transport Workers Union and two other mechanics' unions. American has been in ongoing talks with TWU and its other unions, trying to negotiate labor costs. In a press conference Tuesday morning, newly named chairman and CEO Thomas Horton cited labor costs, the rising price of fuel and the global economy as reasons for the Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection filing. American also announced this morning that former CEO Gerard Arpey was retiring.
Tulsa mechanics are represented by Local TWU 514. Maintenance chairman John Hewitt said this morning on the union's website, "We are all waking up to bad news, but at this point our contracts are in tact until further notice. Gerard Arpey has retired and Thomas Horton has taken the position of CEO of AMR. Negotiations have been put on hold until further notice. We are gathering accurate information at this point and will get it to you as soon as we receive it."
Local TWU 514 will hold a press conference Tuesday at 2:30pm.
Transport Workers Union international president James Little issued the following statement in the wake of Tuesday morning's Chapter 11 filing by AMR Corp and American Airlines:
"We are very disappointed by today's action by AMR. The Transport Workers Union will do everything possible to protect our members at both American Airlines and American Eagle. Work at both airlines will continue through the Chapter 11 reorganization.
Our union had tried to work with AMR managers to make the company more cost competitive and more efficient. In the past month we had reached tentative agreements for both flight dispatchers and fleet service workers. Fleet service is American's largest bargaining unit. Other TWU units at both American and Eagle had previously inked agreements. Our aircraft mechanics and maintenance workers, represented by TWU, have saved the company several hundred million dollars over the past decade through boosted productivity and by bringing in work from other airlines.
While we think this bankruptcy could have and should have been avoided, it does not come as a surprise. TWU engaged special bankruptcy counsel two years ago as a contingency and our attorney Sharon Levine of the firm Lowenstein Sander PC will file claims on behalf of TWU members later today in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.
This is likely to be a long and ugly process and our union will fight like hell to make sure that front line workers don't pay an unfair price for management's failings.
We also will do everything possible to protect our passengers. American Airlines does more maintenance in-house and in the USA than any other major US-based airline. Other bankruptcies in the airline industry have seen aircraft overhaul and other repair work sent to less secure, poorly regulated maintenance facilities in third world countries. We will do everything in our power to maintain quality and safety for this airline and its passengers, while protecting the interests of our members."