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American Airlines union workers must end slowdown, judge orders

American Airlines
American Airlines sued the union in May, saying workers were snarling operations to pressure the airline into a new contract agreement. The union denied that.
(Tom Fox / Dallas Morning News)

A federal judge reinforced an order for American Airlines Group mechanics and other airport ramp workers to end an alleged work slowdown the carrier said has had a “devastating effect” on flights.

A federal judge has reinforced an order for American Airlines Group Inc. mechanics and other airport ramp workers to end an alleged work slowdown that the carrier said has had a “devastating effect” on flights during the busy summer travel season.

U.S. District Judge John McBryde in Fort Worth, Texas, on Monday made permanent an earlier order directing the TWU-IAM Assn. to stop encouraging workers to delay aircraft repairs and other work and reject overtime or out-of-town assignments.

“The concerted job action of defendants’ members has caused flight delays and cancellations, inconveniencing the public and disrupting commerce,” the judge wrote in a ruling.

American Airlines sued the union in late May, arguing that the union was using the slowdown to snarl operations during a key travel period and to pressure the airline into a new contract agreement. More than 640 flights were canceled, affecting 88,000 passengers, during two months of the slowdown, and workers continued to cause major disruptions after McBryde’s initial order in June, the carrier said.

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The union group denied the claims at a one-day trial July 1, saying the airline couldn’t point to a specific flight that was canceled as a result of union activity or a single mechanic who had worked slowly.

The TWU-IAM Assn. was created after the 2013 merger of American Airlines and US Airways to represent the Transport Workers Union of America and International Assn. of Machinists and Aerospace Workers in contract talks.

The association and the airline haven’t been able to agree on such issues as compensation, health and retirement benefits and limits on outsourcing work in 3 ½ years of negotiations. Talks were suspended April 25 by federal mediators because of a lack of progress.


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