When someone thinks of ”bankruptcy” a vision of individuals unable to pay every day bills because of job loss or crushing school and medical costs often comes to mind. But there is another side to this process that is simply shameful: multi-billion dollar corporations using bankruptcy to walk away from promises made to their workers.
That is exactly what is going on at American Airlines, which entered bankruptcy late last year with more than $4 billion in cash. If I had $4 billion, I wouldn’t be looking to shirk my responsibilities. But in the airline industry that seems to be the norm.
Airline after airline has used the bankruptcy court as the preferred path to slash jobs, cut pensions and shed collective bargaining obligations. American employs more than 24,000 members of the Transport Workers Union (TWU) and it is their struggles that lie at the center of this airline bankruptcy.
Part of American’s agenda, with the help of perverted bankruptcy laws, is a plan to outsource thousands of aircraft maintenance jobs overseas. The eyes of our nation and our movement are on American management.
Today, more than 70 percent of these repairs are outsourced by airlines putting good jobs and the highest air safety standards at risk. As a result, thousands of good jobs are threatened at American as the TWU fights to keep these jobs in America. This entire profession, in fact, is threatened as the airlines scour the globe for cheaper labor and regulatory compliance costs. You might call this NAFTA in the skies.
The story about American and its mechanics must be told. These workers helped to build the world’s gold standard in aircraft maintenance right here in America. That is why airlines and nations around the world have always recognized this workforce for its skills and experience. That is why, when the outsourcing binge was taking hold industry-wide, TWU developed with management an “in-sourcing” plan that actually brought more repair work in-house through an innovative plan developed and executed by and for TWU members.
But after years of working with management to turn around the company in the years following the industry’s financial collapse that followed 9/11, all of this is on the verge of collapse.
As TWU International President Jim Little says, “AMR’s draconian plan to offshore maintenance and outsource other jobs is bad for American and bad for America and must be challenged.”
We agree with brother Little which is why our Executive Committee, comprised of 32 union leaders, has pledged its support to TWU in its fight for the future of thousands of workers at American who see their jobs and livelihoods threatened.
Let’s stand with TWU members and make their struggle ours. You can pledge your support to keep American jobs at American Airlines at this new link from twu.org.