American Airlines Maintenance Employees Protest Outsourcing of Jobs

By Lourdes Vasquez | DFW Newsflash | November 2018

Dozens of American Airlines employees protested outside of Terminal D at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport on Tuesday, Oct. 23.

Transport Workers Union (TWU) are in the process of renegotiating their contracts, and the protest was an effort to inform passengers about the affect the negotiations could have on them.

“They need to know who’s working on these airplanes,” said Brian Parker, strategic action committee coordinator, air transport local 513 (AFL-CIO). “We don’t even know. The federal government doesn’t even know.”

Parker said American Airlines plans to outsource maintenance and repair of its aircrafts to countries such as Mexico, South America and China.

“Those mechanics are not qualified,” said Edward Fosman, American Airlines aircraft technician for 28 years. “We’re all certified with airmen certificates by the FAA. Those mechanics are not, and so there’s typically one guy that’s licensed that signs for 20 to 25 people.”

American Airlines said via email to DFW Newsflash, “American performs more of its maintenance work with its own team members than any other U.S. carrier. Nothing in our proposal seeks to change that. American employs more aircraft mechanics than any airline in the U.S. Nothing in our proposal seeks to outsource any aircraft inspections or aircraft maintenance work currently done by American’s team members.”

The union and American Airlines have been in negotiation for three years.

“The writing is on the wall for where they want to get to,” Gary Peterson, international vice president and air division staff for the Transport Workers Union of America, said. Peterson referred to the maintenance hangar built in São Paulo–Guarulhos International Airport.

“We had 10,000 mechanics, and we have half that, so that work went somewhere,” Peterson said.

According to American Airlines, the union and the company remain ‘far apart on several major issues’ in coming to an agreement on a contract. However, American Airlines told DFW Newsflash that the company’s latest proposal provides team members with the highest pay rates in the industry.

“This isn’t an issue necessarily about money it’s an issue about the outsourcing of American workers’ jobs,” Peterson said.

Mark Ramos and his family were on the picket line Tuesday. Ramos and his son, Anthony Oliva, and daughter, Kylie Tatum, walked up and down Terminal D informing passengers the effect the contract could have on them.

“I was there during the merger,” said Ramos who has been with American Airlines for 7 years. “It was bad. We started losing a lot of flights. We lost cabin service; it was outsourced.”

Greg Cosey, first vice president, TWU 513 said the most recent contract proposal eliminated facilities maintenance jobs.

According to TWU, American Airlines would be outsourcing the procedure of de-icing at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. American Airlines’ maintenance would continue to be responsible for de-icing at at five airports: Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, O’Hare International Airport, Logan International Airport, LaGuardia Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport.

“If I don’t have a job, I can’t support my family,” Ramos said.

American Airlines has hubs in Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Washington. The airline has close to 6,700 flights per day to about 350 destinations in more than 50 countries.

According to American Airlines’ 2017 earnings report, the company generated $42.2 billion in revenue.

“How much money does a company need? Why would you outsource these good solid American jobs,” asked Cosey, who has worked for American Airlines for 30 years. “They don’t understand the economic impact it may have on the various communities around the country.”

Licia Hogarth, project manager, was flying to Milan Tuesday and said although she believes there are skilled mechanics in other countries, she is not in favor of American Airlines outsourcing jobs.

“We have very capable mechanics here, and I think we should use them,” Hogarth said.

Hogarth added in her field she has worked with companies who outsource, and while companies save money, the quality is also affected.

“You pay less when you outsource, but you also get less,” Hogarth said.

American and the union are currently in mediation with the National Mediation Board. Their first meeting with the mediator is scheduled for the Dallas/Fort Worth-area on Oct. 30.