Ground workers for American Airlines picketed at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport to protest what union members say are plans to outsource U.S.-based jobs.
Three Transport Workers Union locals representing Fort Worth-based American’s (Nasdaq: AAL) aircraft maintenance, fleet service, facilities and ground support employees will picket. TWU Locals 513, 567 and 591 will host TWU International leadership, officers and members from labor organizations across the country “to shed light on American Airlines latest plan to outsource many more U.S. based jobs,” according to an advisory released Monday.
The union members are concerned specifically about a plan to invest what they say will be $100 million into a new aircraft maintenance facility in Brazil, according to TWU.
The demonstration also called on the company to deliver an industry leading contract.
“At the heart of the issue lies the safety of the traveling public and our flight crews, as American plans to outsource a substantial portion of its aircraft maintenance work to places like Argentina, Brazil, Chile and China — to increase profits because the cost of doing maintenance there is cheaper,” the advisory says. “The company has also announced a plan to invest $100 million into a new aircraft maintenance facility in Brazil that will be staffed with foreign workers with the large majority of them not being certified by the FAA.”
American Airlines spokesman Matt Miller said the airline is "incredibly thankful for our skilled and well-trained maintenance and fleet service team."
American plans to break ground on a two-bay hangar in São Paulo later this year that will allow the company to work on widebody aircraft that are on the ground for up to 12 hours every day, Miller said.
The hangar will be for American Airlines aircraft only and will be staffed by American’s team members in São Paulo, he said, and the line maintenance work done at the São Paulo hangar won’t impact work already done in the United States.
"All of this work is being done today — we are simply putting a roof over it," he said. "We aren’t starting new lines of work that we don’t already perform today."
The São Paulo hangar is projected to cost $50 million to build, Miller said. Domestically, American is investing nearly $140 million to build a new maintenance hangar at Chicago O'Hare International Airport, and has made additional recent significant investments in hangar facilities at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and the company's maintenance base in Tulsa, among others.
American has also outsourced its security inspections and aircraft cleaning to third party contractors that pay their employees minimum wage, the TWU said. “This results in a high employee turnover and lack of experience, which could compromise safety and security.”
Meanwhile, negotiations for a new contract have stalled, according to an update to members posted on the TWU website.
“TWU members at American Airlines have made countless sacrifices while the company continues to make record profits,” the update says. “We’ve been through bankruptcy, a merger, and stagnating wages.”
Miller said contract negotiations are progressing.
"We’re back at the bargaining table with the TWU-IAM Association this week with dates scheduled through August," he said. "We look forward to reaching an agreement as soon as possible.”
Read the full statement from American Airlines below:
“American is incredibly thankful for our skilled and well-trained maintenance and fleet service team. We have a shared goal with the TWU-IAM Association to make sure our team members are well compensated and work for a company that values them immensely. That was the motivation for last summer’s unprecedented pay raises outside of negotiations, which gave our teams the highest wages in the industry. A lot of progress has been made in negotiations recently. We’re back at the bargaining table with the Association this week with dates scheduled through August, and look forward to reaching an agreement as soon as possible.”
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