Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Weighs in on the Dispute Between American Airlines and its Mechanics

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and 26 other New York-area members of Congress sent a letter to American Airlines CEO Doug Parker and to the heads of the Transport Workers Union and the International Association of Machinists.

American’s mechanics and ramp workers have maintained their separate legacy US Airways and American unions, and they’re negotiating as part of an ‘association’ however each work group has different interests. Negotiations have gone badly – there is still no post-merger contract – with primary issues including moving US Airways employees over to the less generous American Airlines health plan and the amount of outsourcing American is permitted to do.

Wading into this thicket the New York members of Congress offer (full text .pdf),

There have been several instances in which foreign repair facilities have failed to meet this standard in key areas of safety and security, particularly as pertains to drug and alcohol testing and security background checks. We hope any current overseas employees who have an impact on the safe operation of flights are held to the same high standards as those here at home, while continuing to have a qualified, domestic workforce.

Of course,

Indeed foreign facilities are required to conform to U.S. standards. American Airlines employs non-union mechanics abroad who do work at their local stations. At issue, for instance, is how much work those American Airlines employees can do while planes spend their days on the ground in Brazil, arriving in the morning and taking off at night. And many foreign facilities are exemplary, such as HAECO in Hong Kong.

Ultimately American Airlines outsources far less than United and Delta do, and that should remain true even if the company gets its way in a final contract. So American is hardly the ‘labor bad boy’ here for politicians to grandstand over.

Maintenance work needs to be overseen properly, work needs to be checked, that’s true whether the work is performed in the U.S. or abroad, by union members or non-union workers. One worry over requiring maintenance work to be done by union workers domestically is that high cost maintenance is what airlines might try to avoid. For safety’s sake maintenance needs to be affordable. Lower cost quality maintenance allows an airline to consume more maintenance.

Ocasio-Cortez, Peter King, Jerrold Nadler, Nita Lowey and others ought to stay in their lane.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. If an issue involves the jobs of their constituents, members of Congress will always get involved. This is their lane.

  2. Taking economic/business advice from these ignorant jokers is the height of folly.

  3. This is an issue for their constituents–it’s most certainly in their lane.

    American is earning billions. Perhaps it might soften the blow of the poor AA healthcare plan compared to the US Airways healthcare plan by improving the former and throwing in incentives? You know, giving back to the employees a little to share a bit in the wealth? That’s also in their lane…and the lane for almost all federal legislators.

  4. Lane 1: “all three chambers of government—the presidency, the Senate and the House”
    Lane 2: “Unemployment is low because everyone has two jobs.”
    Stay in your 2 lanes.

  5. So an Air-Head bar tender is an expert on Mechanics and Airlines? I don’t think so. She doesn’t even know what a garbage disposal is.

  6. @Alan is correct, it is easy to write a press release when you aren’t the one doing it. They came into office knowing nothing of the industry and remain just as ignorant now.

  7. I know Alan, right. If only said bar-tender were white and a right winger we would be slobbering all over her as a prime example of a true “American rags to riches through hard work” story. Right Alan?

  8. My questions is why the article opens by referring to one particular individual by name “and 26 other New York-area members of Congress”? Is the one person so much more accomplished than the 26 anonymous nonentities? I have never understood why the news media and the occupant of the White House have been so focused on this individual.

  9. Stay in their lane?? Bro, cmon, this is well with in Congress’ lane. I have a feeling you are a right wing fool, who can’t stand AOC or anything she stands for, which by the way is the majority. Stay in your lane and focus on writing about the seats and comfort on planes.

  10. @Gary

    “Ocasio-Cortez, Peter King, Jerrold Nadler, Nita Lowey and others ought to stay in their lane.”

    This reminds me of a famous saying about how those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Gary, your strength is certainly in loyalty programs and all of that, for which many people read your blog to keep up with the latest and greatest.

    But when it comes to pretty much anything else in aviation, your thought leadership is nowhere near as strong.

  11. Delta TechOps is on pace to generate $1B in revenue in 2019.

    What makes you think Delt-outsources more maintenance than AA? It seems like many airlines are outsourcing their MX to Delta….

  12. I’d like to know what invite-only Elite Status has been gifted to these 26. Too bad Members of Congress are exempted from FOIAs (Freedom of Information Act requests.).

    @KTC +100. (Surprised AOC didn’t sign with a crayon or an X.)

  13. Parker needs to step up to the plate and get directly involved at the negotiation table. He even contracts out the chief American negotiator. This dispute has been going on much too long!

  14. Any time there is lobbying money to be made, it is the Congress’ lane. True for both sides of the aisle. The more you get involved, the greater the potential for campaign donations or the better they lobbying job is after you leave Congress.

  15. I can’t believe you of all people are telling others to stay in their lane. You’re a credit card salesman masquerading as an lawyer/pundit.

    Take your own advice, you clown.

  16. She already ran Amazon out of NYC and now does she want AA to leave too. DL and UA will have to go with them since they are the kings and queens of out sourcing. This congressperson needs to learn about business before opening her mouth. Hope she enjoys her one and only term.

    Oh wait, it won’t matter. . .she wants to get rid of air travel all together. What a joke. 15 – 20 million jobs in the US eliminated.

  17. The childlike scribble of Alexandria Occasionally Coherent’s signature is congruent with her understanding of complex topics.

  18. These folks may or may not be in their lane but their ability to do anything about this other than grandstand like they are is just about zero percent. As such they serve more as a distraction than a help.

  19. We Americans all of us, are great at doing something the best, it has made us the best in the world. Planes fly constantly during the day and maintenance is usually done at night when the plane is on the ground for more that 6 hours. If and airplane is sitting on the ground for 10+ hours then it is an opportunity to make sure that plane is at its best — wherever in the world it is. Why is this a point of conflict, it is just Americans doing things the best.

  20. Dan,Gracie and toomanybooks you get it AOC et al should stay out of it!!!I know they love UNIONS and want everyone to join and pay dues so the DNC can get more DONATIONS…

  21. This letter was not , as you say, from members of the New York Delegation. It was from New York and New Jersey representatives. Doesn’t change the substance but accuracy is to be desired, especially when commenting on a political issue. And I concur with others that only naming the odious AOC as if she’s the leader of the pack was uncalled for.

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