American workers in Tulsa uneasy, despite Fort Worth base closure

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by STEVE STOLER

WFAA

Posted on February 2, 2012 at 12:05 AM

Updated Thursday, Feb 2 at 12:26 AM

TULSA, Okla. - American Airlines is the largest private employer in Tulsa, with 7,000 employees.

Of those, 5,600 are members of Transport Workers Union Local 514, including Gary Elias, a 26-year airplane mechanic.

"I'm just keeping my fingers crossed, and praying for all the families that this is going to affect," Elias said.

The announced closing of the American Airlines maintenance center in Fort Worth provided little comfort for union members in Tulsa.

"It still affects Tulsa," said Rick Mullings, a member of TWU Local 514. "Just because they close one center and they move some work around, they also are talking about contracting out maintenance. So, it's not over yet."

In 2003, Tulsa voters approved a one-cent sales tax that provided American Airlines more than $22 million in incentive to stay in the city and expand their maintenance center.

So did that influence American's decision to keep the Tulsa center open?

"I don't know if it did or not," said Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett. "I mean, we'd have to ask them to see what their opinion would be."

Even though the Tulsa maintenance facility will remain open, 2,100 Tulsa employees may still lose their jobs. That prompted the Tulsa mayor to tell News 8 it's a sad day for his city, the City of Fort Worth and for any American Airlines employee who may lose his or her job.

E-mail sstoler@wfaa.com

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