What's next for American Airlines workers and Tulsa

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Updated: 5/16/2012 9:42 am Published: 5/15/2012 8:11 pm

Five of the seven union groups who voted on the American Airlines contract proposal voted yes, but the airline mechanics group is one of two groups who voted it down.

They are the group of workers out at the Tulsa Maintenance Base.

Now, many are worried the “no” vote means months of uncertainty for thousands of Green Country families and even more uncertainty for the City of Tulsa.

We asked Joe McGill, a 24-year veteran of the American Airlines workforce in Tulsa, if he thought the region understood what's at stake.

He says, “I'm going to put it to you this way. The leadership of Tulsa understands the importance. I cannot say about the general population. I cannot say if the general population is on board with this or not.”

If American Airlines gets what it wants, more than 2600 people could lose their jobs.

McGill says, “If this goes, we’re going to have at least two hangars out there that are going to be empty.”

If won’t just be hangars that could wind up empty; McGill is worried that hundreds of Green Country homes could soon be empty, too.

“Some of them are going to have to pick up and move, more foreclosures, more houses on the market, less houses to be sold,” McGill says.

With the contract rejection, it's a waiting game.

If the union and the airline don't reach an agreement, Tulsa jobs could be cut as soon as American Airlines hires a company to outsource its maintenance work, although it is unclear exactly where that outsourcing would happen.

“In my opinion, I don’t see Tulsa being able to absorb this many people,” McGill tells us.

FOX23’s Adam Paluka spoke with the mayor’s office.

The mayor and city staff says they are very disappointed with this vote, but feel there’s nothing more they could have done to have helped change the outcome.

They continue on to say they will continue to work with American Airlines and the union in the coming weeks and months to try and secure as many jobs as possible out at the airport.

This “no” vote does leave a laundry list of questions for many employees.

The Transport Workers Union says despite Tuesday’s vote results, negotiations with the airline are not over.

McGill says, “Hopefully, we can still work something out here, pull a rabbit out of the hat, if you will.”

Now employees, like McGill, hope for a merger.

US Airways has already talked with the unions and appears to have their backing.

“It’s nothing to be taken seriously until September, they can’t make a move until then,” McGill says.

However McGill thinks a joint airline could be what helps keep the most Tulsans employed.

“In the long run, it could be a good thing. For Tulsa, for American Airlines, for US Airways, for all of them if it’s done property,” McGill says.

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