TWU groups join AA pilots, flight attendants in bankruptcy court



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Posted on May 15, 2012 at 10:00 PM

Updated Tuesday, May 15 at 10:51 PM

NEW YORK — Behind French sculptures and a picturesque façade, an ugly process is unfolding  at U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Lower Manhattan.

“It’s just a difficult process. Nothing is easy about this at all,” said American Airlines spokesman Bruce Hicks.

The Allied Pilots Association spent a second day presenting its case against American Airlines canceling its decades-old contract.

But the Transport Workers Union overshadowed Tuesday’s testimony. Five groups under the TWU umbrella settled on a new contract out of court,  but two others refused.

American's large maintenance base in Tulsa, Oklahoma will lose 2,100 jobs if a judge lets American cancel their contracts.

The carriers's maintenance operations at Alliance Airport in Fort Worth would close as well, eliminating 1,200 positions there.

Plus, another 1,175 maintenance and parts jobs scattered through American’s system would also go away.

All told, almost 4,500 TWU positions are at stake.

“They feel they’re already at the bottom of the industry. They feel some of the terms were unacceptable,” said Transport Workers Union spokesman Robert Gless.

Despite using such terms, the contract was not American’s final offer to the TWU, after all. The airline said it still wants to talk.

“In order to be successful out of bankruptcy, we need consensual agreements. We continue to make efforts to do so,” Hicks said.

Pilots also plan to resume out-of-court negotiations with American soon.

“We’ll see; we’re hopeful," said Allied Pilots Association president Capt. Dave Bates. "We’re always hopeful, but the past five years hasn’t proved successful."

The APA’s attorneys are still arguing in court on several issues, including their opposition to American using larger regional jets, and "codesharing" — or essentially partnering — with other airlines.

“They want to outsource a very large number of pilot jobs, and we just can’t support that,” Capt Bates said.

The APA will call its last witness on Wednesday afternoon. Attorneys for the Association of Professional Flight Attendants will begin making their case after that.

The two TWU workgroups that rejected American’s final offer will likely see the bankruptcy judge early next week.

Follow Jason Whitely on Twitter @jasonwhitely Wednesday as he live tweets the testimony from U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York City.