The American Airlines-US Airways merger wasn’t complete even 6 years after it closed. Mechanics from each airline still worked separately, on different sets of planes with only a limited amount of crossover, because they never got a new joint contract.
American handed out raises without a new contract, giving employees less of an incentive to agree to new terms. US Airways mechanics wanted to keep their more generous health plan. American employees wanted to limit outsourcing, which competitor airlines do more of. And everyone wanted more money.
After a ‘summer from hell’ operation, in which mechanics wrote up minor items at the last minute; slow walked repairs; refused to work overtime; and did everything possible to impair the airline’s reliability (which had other problems besides mechanics to begin with) American agreed to generous terms including preserving the US Airways health plan for a period of time, ensuring job protections, and increasing pay and profit sharing.
It’s been nearly two months since American agreed to that deal, and the aviation world has fallen apart in the meantime. Flight attendants and pilots are in the midst of negotiating new contracts, and surely wish they had gotten one done already. Because there’s no way that mechanics and fleet service workers would have gotten the same deal today that they were offered two months ago.
On Thursday the ‘association’ of two unions representing these employees announced that the contract was ratified. And the deal was overwhelmingly ratified, because their members aren’t morons. Going back tot he bargaining table now would mean a deal close to what they received was off the table. Signing bonuses? Now? Are you crazy?
- Mechanic & Related: 90.94% in favor
- Fleet Service: 95.45% in favor
- MLS/Stores: 92.12% in favor
This is a 30,000 member group that can’t agree on a single union to represent them, yet each subgroup voted over 90% in favor of a deal despite years of acrimony and many of its members actively working to undermine the airline last summer. What could the handful voting against possibly be… ok, they weren’t thinking.