Pilots, flight attendants blast American over mechanic lawsuit.
Unions representing American Airlines pilots and flight attendants lambasted the airline after it sued unions that represent its mechanics.
American Airlines Group Inc. (Nasdaq: AAL) filed a lawsuit last week against the Transport Workers Union of America and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, accusing the unions of engaging in a slowdown campaign for leverage in contract negotiations.
American said between Feb. 4 and May 13 the slowdown resulted in nearly 650 flight cancellations and 1,550 flight delays of two hours or more.
“The odds of this being random as opposed to concerted activity is less than one-in-one billion,” American said in the lawsuit.
TWU, one of the groups sued, said it would “prefer to be at the negotiating table than in a legal battle brought on by American.”
Other unions support
The Allied Pilots Association and Association of Professional Flight Attendants both issued statements backing the mechanics unions.
“If American Airlines management really wants to know what’s wrong with this airline, all they have to do is look in the mirror,” said Dan Carey, APA president, in a prepared statement. “… Rather than engaging in intimidation and litigation, they should be focusing on ways to deliver the culture change they have long promised.”
Both the APA and APFA brought up American’s desire to conduct more offshore maintenance work.
The point is similar to the main gripe the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association had with Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE: LUV) during their negotiations. Those two sides recently brought an end to six years of negotiations that also featured accusations of illegal job actions.
“The working men and women of the IAM and TWU are critically important assets to the airline, not the problem,” said Lori Bassani, APFA national president, in a prepared statement.
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An American spokesperson declined to comment on the APA and APFA’s remarks.
‘Bloodiest, ugliest battle’
An American town hall meeting that included Robert Isom, American’s president, and TWU members turned contentious when the two sides discussed a new contract.
John Samuelsen, TWU president, told Isom he doubts it’ll ever happen, but the union could engage in “vicious” strike actions against American “to the likes of which you’ve never seen.”
“If this erupts into the bloodiest, ugliest battle that the United States labor movement ever saw, that’s what’s going to happen,” Samuelsen said in a video posted by TWU. “You’re already profitable enough.”
Isom said he will send negotiators back to the bargaining table, but bemoaned the union’s language of going to battle. “We can’t live this way,” Isom said.
“I will tell you this: Anybody who seeks to destroy American Airlines, that is not going to be productive,” Isom added.