Teamsters Drop Bid to Represent Mechanics at American Airlines

Susanne Pagano
BNA Daily Labor Report
20, 2013
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The International Brotherhood of Teamsters has dropped its yearlong campaign to represent 11,000 mechanics and related workers at American Airlines, the union announced Aug. 16. The Teamsters said they ended their bid to represent the mechanics because of the Justice Department's lawsuit seeking to block the proposed merger between US Airways and American Airlines.

The union said the DOJ litigation places the workers at American "in significant turmoil."  "American Airlines' emergence from bankruptcy has been cast into doubt and the union has determined that the continued conflict between labor organizations is not in the best interest of the workers," Teamsters spokesman Bret Caldwell said in a statement. More than 6,000 American Airlines mechanics and related personnel signed cards to make the Teamsters their bargaining representative, the union said.

The Transport Workers Union, which currently represents American mechanics, said it is pleased the Teamsters realized its "raid" of TWU members was "wasteful and divisive."  TWU says it will focus on fighting DOJ suit. "Now that we do not have the distraction of an unnecessary campaign among already organized workers, we can redouble our efforts on battling the Department of Justice's unjustified legal challenge to the proposed merger of American Airlines and US Airways," TWU International President James C. Little said in an Aug. 16 email. Little said the combined airline will protect "good-paying U.S. jobs and benefit consumers by creating a real alternative to the Delta/United duopoly."

The Teamsters filed a petition and authorization cards May 28 with the National Mediation Board for an election to represent American mechanics and related workers. The union earlier said a majority of American Airlines mechanics in the bargaining unit at 14 hubs had signed cards for Teamster representation.

In July, TWU filed objections with the NMB to the Teamsters representation election, alleging that an IBT organizer forged authorization card signatures of workers. The Teamsters denied any wrongdoing in securing the signatures of workers petitioning for a representation election. TWU officials have accused the Teamsters of carrying out a "campaign of misinformation" and making promises it has not been able to fulfill at other carriers.

The Teamsters also lost a bid to represent 4,600 mechanics at US Airways. The bargaining group voted Aug. 12 to continue to be represented by the International Association of Machinists rather than switching to the Teamsters.

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