Union leaders for US Airways mechanics and ground crew workers met with American Airlines management and federal mediators this week in Washington D.C. with no significant progress made in contract talks.
The National Mediation Board held the meetings at their offices as the International Association of Machinists reiterated their request to be released from talks as an impasse has been reached. The two parties have been in contract talks since 2011.
"US Airways’ refusal to settle fair contracts that provides comparable wage rates to what it negotiated with American’s employees who perform the same work is an insult," said IAM IAM District 141 President Rich Delaney. "We demand a release from these fruitless discussions so we can exercise our right to strike."
American, which merged with US Airways in December, has said it wants to negotiate new joint contracts with all of its unions as the two carriers integrate.
"Based on the meetings, we expect the NMB to schedule additional sessions to continue our discussions," the company said in a statement.
Keep reading from the full press release from the IAM about this week's meetings.
IAM PRESS RELEASE
After hearing American Airlines CEO Doug Parker lie about how wonderful labor relations are at the “new” American Airlines at a JPMorgan investor conference last week, Parker and his management team once again slapped IAM members at US Airways in the face by refusing to settle contracts that provide comparable wage rates to those negotiated with American’s employees who perform the same work.
The continued insult occurred at the offices of the National Mediation Board (NMB) in Washington D.C., where IAM Trans- portation Department officials met with NMB Chairwoman Linda Puchala to reiterate that an impasse has been reached and to press the NMB to release both parties from mediated talks.
“US Airways’ refusal to settle fair contracts that provides comparable wage rates to what it negotiated with American’s employees who perform the same work is an insult,” said IAM IAM District 141 President Rich Delaney. “We demand a release from these fruitless discussions so we can exercise our right to strike.”
“We will not walk away from years of negotiations because that is what US Airways wants,” said District 142 President Tom Higginbotham. “IAM members at US Airways sacrificed when needed to save the airline, and now’s the time for fairness, not disrespect.”
In a quarterly meeting in February, Parker stated that American’s goal is to achieve single joint contracts with all its labor unions. IAM members at US Airways have been in contract negotiations with the carrier for almost three years and have demanded that they settle stand-alone agreements before any joint negotiations take place.
“The IAM has stated all along that fair stand-alone contracts for IAM members at US Airways must be achieved before the idea of joint negotiations is entertained,” said IAM General Vice President Sito Pantoja. “With our TWU sisters and brothers, there are almost 30,000 voices at the ‘new’ American who are demanding fairness and respect.”
“The TWU and IAM are partners,” said Transport Workers Union President Harry Lombardo, in a public show of support for IAM ground workers. “Both unions belong to the AFL- CIO. We represent workers that share the same skills and classifications; the nearly 30,000 ground workers represented by IAM and TWU at the new American Airlines are union brothers and sisters. We will not sit idly by as management tries to drive a wedge between workers.”
“I thank TWU President Harry Lombardo for his public statement of solidarity,” continued Pantoja. “Mr. Parker should take notice that clear lines of division have formed at his airline. All we ask for is fairness, and we are prepared to fight for it.”
The TWU and IAM formed an official representation alliance last year after the merger of American and US Airways, and plan to combine both union’s considerable resources to represent TWU-IAM ground workers at the “new” American.
The NMB has yet to issue a decision to release both parties from mediated negotiations and extend a proffer of arbitration.
The IAM-TWU alliance represents nearly 30,000 ground workers at the “new” American Airlines and is the largest union at the carrier.
Rich Delaney, President & Directing General Chairperson, District Lodge 141
Tom Higginbotham, President/General Chairman, District Lodge 142