New contract campaign at US airline set to go global

March 6, 2011

American Airlines aircraft *

A transport union is ramping up pressure on a major US airline to sign up to a new contract for workers as it prepares to “globalise” the campaign message.

The ITF-affiliated Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) is pressing American Airlines (AA) to bargain in good faith and secure a contract that respects workers’ hard work and sacrifice. TWU members have been in negotiations with the parent company of AA since contracts became “amendable” in 2006, and the parties have been in federal mediation since 2008. An agreement for the 22,000 TWU AA workers has yet to be reached.

The campaign will open up new opportunities for global solidarity amongst airline workers and create international bargaining strategies. The TWU will, for example, use an upcoming meeting of unions in the Oneworld airline alliance, of which AA is a member, to plan the tactics and strategy for its contract campaign. A number of TWU contract campaign events could also be tied to US cities where Oneworld plans to expand and campaigning could spread beyond the US.

Speaking at a news briefing in Dallas, Texas, on 24 February, Garry Drummond, director of TWU’s air transport division and local TWU leaders discussed how they had made concessions to keep the airline out of bankruptcy in 2003; the union had also boosted productivity and helped the company attract third party work.

Bob Zimmerman, TWU Local 565 president, said that a labour agreement would only become more expensive the longer the company waited as the union wouldn’t wait forever before taking action.

ITF civil aviation section vice chair Brendan Gold, also an officer of the UK union Unite, which represents workers at another Oneworld alliance member British Airways said: “The ITF is committed to building a strong and active global network of unions as a necessary counterbalance to the employers in the airline alliances. This need has become more pressing with the growing impact of alliance policies and strategies on the actions and decisions of individual airlines and on our members’ jobs.”

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