American Airlines spring walkouts possible

Workers at American Airlines are
set for a walk-out this spring.

The Transport Workers Union
represents nearly 30,000 workers at the carrier including American Eagle. The
union has been in talks about new contracts since 2006 with no resolution. For
the last two years they have been in mediation with AA.

American Airlines and the union had
previously agreed a renegotiated contract during 2003 which included wage cuts
as at that time the carrier was on the brink of bankruptcy.

The Union says that it is unhappy
with changes to pensions and health benefits for retiring staff, and says that
the 1.5 per cent pay rise in the final year of the contract is not satisfactory.
Bonuses and lump-sum payments that replaced raises are also under question.

They will now approach federal
mediators to allow their members to be released from the process to strike if
no resolution has been found by 8 March.

Disputes

Some sections of the TWU membership
have already settled with AA but mechanics and ground staff remain in dispute
with the airline, which operates flights in Grand Cayman.

American Airlines has said it will
consider training replacement workers in the event of a separate strike planned
by members of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants.

Five days of talks, beginning on 27
February, are scheduled during which APFA have said they will also seek release
from future bargaining sessions, paving the way for their own walkout.

The airline experienced criticism
during 2009 when it doled out $6.5 million in bonuses to executives despite
parent company AMR Corporation having lost $375 million in the first quarter of
last year.

Congress and the president
could still block any industrial action. A 1993 strike was averted by the
direct intervention of President Bill Clinton.